Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


After reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I was really excited to read her other YA contemporary. I have been hearing buzz about this book for years, so earlier this week I finally sat down and read it. Honestly, this book just didn’t do it for me. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t see what everyone else sees in this book.

The plot is basically as follows: Eleanor moved to a new neighborhood and starts going to a new school. Her home life isn’t great (an understatement) and her school life isn’t much better. She’s highly insecure and is just trying to cope as she gets through high school. On her first day she sits on the bus next to Park, a misfit in his own manor, who is also just trying to survive high school. They ignore each other for the first few rides, until they realize they have a shared passion for comics and music, and a odd duckling relationship is born.

The plot of this book is fairly slow until the last thirty pages. It was just a bit on the boring side. I would start thinking about not finishing the book and then there would be just enough of an uptick in plot that I would keep reading. It wasn’t a bad plot, I enjoyed the overarching narrative, but it just took a little to long to develop for me. Had the pacing of the last thirty or so pages been spread a bit more evenly throughout the book, I probably would have enjoyed it more.

The centerpiece of this book is the romance between Eleanor and Park. They start out ignoring each other and almost instantly start obsessing over each other. Sadly, I really just didn’t feel the chemistry between these two. I wasn’t rooting for them and I didn’t really feel invested in them. The thing that I liked least about this book is how underdeveloped the characters all are. Even right after reading this book, I couldn’t name more than one of Eleanor’s siblings let alone a personality trait of theirs. They were all pretty one dimensional feeling to me, and characters are typically the part that makes or breaks a book for me. Eleanor and Park both seemed to stay mostly the same throughout the book, I would have liked to see them grow a bit more as they learned from each other. I also wish there was more of the two girls from Eleanor’s gym class.

If I had to rate this book, I would give it a 3/5. There was nothing about it that I disliked, but there was a lot about it that I just felt too indifferent about. That being said, I still cannot wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell’s books soon (Carry On is creeping higher and higher up my to-be-read pile).

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  1. I definitely agree with your review and enjoyed hearing more of your thoughts on this book! I didn’t feel the connection between Eleanor and Park either. That made it hard to fall in love with the book as a whole because I just couldn’t understand their relationship.

    But definitely keep moving Carry On up on your TBR because it’s outstanding❤️

  2. I love finding different opinions on books. Where I liked Fangirl much better, I did love this book as well. For whatever reason, the ending made me so happy and that was a game changer for me. I felt deeply for what both Eleanor & Park were going through and they became each other’s lifelines. I understand the slow aspect of it though…it wasn’t a jaw dropping book, just a feel-good book that I would read snuggled up in the wintertime. <3 Have a great day!!

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! Even when I don’t like books, I really like to hear why people enjoyed them. I’ll have to give it a reread during the winter to get those vibes 🙂

  3. Fangirl is one of my favourite books – I tend to read it at least once a year – and I love Carry On as well. I want to read more of her stuff but I have heard conflicting things about this book. Really liked your review – I might get around to this one eventually, but judging by your thoughts, I’m not in any rush!

  4. Really liked the way how you justified your review. I didn’t like the book too (thankfully I’m not alone) You should definitely check out Attachments, Landline and Kindred Spirits.

  5. I gave it 3 stars too. When I first read it I thought it was great but when I reread it later on, I felt the complete opposite. I agree that the characters were underdeveloped. Also, I didn’t really like Eleanor’s character, especially the lowkey racist comments she made about Park, it made me uncomfortable at times.

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