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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

There has been a lot of buzz lately about how terrific Eleanor & Park is lately, including this terrific review by John Green.  I am almost embarrassed to admit how long I sat on this one before finally settling down to read it. I requested it from NetGalley on October 14! Once it’s publication date drew near I started to think about getting it read (it’s hard to tell, but I am making an effort to read my NetGalley books as they are released, or just before. Or I was, before the move and all.)  I started it in earnest before I started working, but it wasn’t long before I was distracted by the stack of paper library books. But then, once I went to work, things changed. I started taking my Nook every day, because it’s so much easier to read in short bursts. So … wait, why do I explain myself like this EVERY SINGLE BOOK? Onward!

Eleanor is new in school. Her history is a bit unknown, she dresses funny, her hair is very very red, and she is not petite. On her first day she rides the bus and is forced to sit by Park, who doesn’t talk to her. Park reads comics and listens to music and while he isn’t disliked, he isn’t exactly popular either. Park just IS. Over time, Park begins to share his comics with her, and discovers a witty, sarcastic personality in Eleanor. He begins to look forward to their time together on the bus and to miss her when they are apart. He can’t stop thinking about her or watching her at school and is soon completely smitten. Eleanor is a bit more hesitant. She doesn’t trust people and is all too aware of the things that make her different.  She finds it impossible to believe that someone as beautiful as Park would find anything at all appealing about her, and while she’s much less willing to admit her feelings to him, she’s willing to admit them to herself. The falling in love- the delicious tension and suspense-  is so well done. This is, more than anything else, a story about falling in love for the first time.  Oh there are bits of the 80s here, and a good bit of the awful home life Eleanor has, but really, it’s the wonder of completely falling for someone else. Of being nearly unable to stand being near to them, just the slightest touch feeling like an electric shock. Every word you speak has meaning and feeling and at the same time you just can’t stop talking.

The back story of Eleanor’s home life is left to the shadows, and there are some creepy bits that are never really explained, but I think in hindsight this works well, because the story isn’t really about that. It’s about the feeling of falling in love, even when everything else is going bad, and you realize things aren’t stable. Eleanor is always hesitant to make a bad move, lest everything fall down and it eventually all does. I have a few little quibbles about the ending, and how prettily most of it is tied up, but overall I really enjoyed this one.

(PS. I notice as of the time of this writing you can get it for Kindle for $4.99)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this for review from NetGalley.


  1. I listened to the audio of this and really liked it too!

  2. Explain away....I feel the need to explain myself, too. No matter what I just can't catch up! Net Galley is so easy to get books from and my good intentions of getting them read never quite turn out since I also have stacks of books from the library.
    Glad you liked Eleanor and Park...I loved that book.

  3. The cover and the title make a very cute presentation. I have yet to get on NetGalley because I'm already always behind and I'm afraid to add more to my reading expectations. I'll see if I can find it at the library.

  4. It's been getting some good reviews. It's on my list! Along with a zillion other titles ;)

  5. I have this in a box of Readathon books in my living room. I wanna read it now!


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