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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: January 1, 2012
Pages: 336
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 Stars


Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

In short: Eleanor & Park is unlike any YA Contemporary Romance out there and it is that, combined with Rainbow Rowell's talent at crafting genuine characters who experience earnest love, which makes it so special.
Eleanor & Park is not the kind of book I think of when I think of YA Contemporary Romance. And that's absolutely a good thing. Neither Eleanor nor Park are described as being model- or movie-star-good-looking as are most star-crossed lovers of YA fiction. There's nothing remotely exceptional about them, actually. And their relationship isn't punctured with the over-dramatic cliched conflicts or the nonsensical hurdles that pepper the contemporary romance genre. Eleanor & Park is an unabashedly real, uncliched tale of love between two average people and it is that which makes it so remarkable.

Admittedly, I wasn't immediately swept up in their relationship. There was a bit of a disconnect for me between the moment when Eleanor and Park were impassive towards each other on the bus and the moment when they were sweetly holding hands with each other on the bus. But thankfully Rainbow Rowell soon convinced me that theirs was a love so earnest that it was worth cherishing. Rainbow is also a master crafter of genuine characters and thus it was not long until both Eleanor and Park seemed as real to me as actual people, both endowed with plenty of teenage angst, but both sincere and very dear to me.

Eleanor & Park is unlike any YA Contemporary Romance out there and it is this uniqueness in the genre, combined with Rainbow Rowell's talent at crafting genuine characters who experience earnest love, that makes it such a stand-out and special read. Eleanor & Park is only the second book by Rainbow Rowell I have read and, though I didn't love it as much as Fangirl, my special experience with it has solidified my love for all things Rainbow. I can't wait to follow up this experience with her adult books!

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
Books in the Spotlight
A Girl, Books and Other Things

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26 comments :

  1. I enjoyed reading your review. I've heard good things about this book and I really want to read it. I even gave Eleanor & Park and Fangirl as a gift for a friend's birthday last week. Sadly, I won't be buying it for myself any time soon. I've resolved to not buy any books until I have finished my TBR pile.

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    1. Aww, thank you, that's very nice of you. But I approve of your book buying policy! You could always take it out from the library to see how you feel about it.

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  2. I have heard obviously loads about this book!! I love contemporary books a lot so I might give this one a shot! The way you have described the characters... I'll surely buy it!!! :D Lovely review!
    Haniya
    booknauthors.blogspot.com

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    1. Excellent, I hope you love it as much as everyone else seems to!

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  3. I am so, so happy that you enjoyed this one as much as you did, even if it makes me a bit sad that I didn't share the same experience as you did. The points you made about their relationship are ALL valid and true, and I did like that both parties weren't perfect or gorgeous beyond words - it made them real. Thanks for your lovely review here and I'll be sure that my next RR book is NOT an audio book heh.

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    1. Aww, thank you Miche <3 I wish you had had a better experience with it as well, but I can actually think of quite a few people who really did not like this book, so you're not alone anyways! But yes, when Carry On finally releases, maybe a physical read would be best :)

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  4. Okay. Even you read this YA Contemporary. Seriously, I feel like I am the only person in the blogosphere who hasn't read Eleanor & Park! I promise I will, though. You've praised it so much, and that's enough for me to borrow Janhvi's copy sometime soon and get reading. Lovely review, Aylee!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. haha, yup even me! That means you got to get on it soon. I think you'd like it!

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  5. This is one of my all-time favorites for the reasons you stated; the characters are so genuine and they seem so real. We need more books like this, especially in YA romance.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. Yes, we definitely do! Because I can't say I really love the other kinds of YA contemporary romance, but I really dug this kind.

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  6. I haven't read anything by Rowell yet, but her books sound wonderful. I especially like that the characters aren't your stereotypical protagonists :)

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    1. Yes, her characters are the best and so memorable! Hope you can read something of hers soon!

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  7. As you know, I loved this book Aylee. I'm so glad that you found time to read this book. The fact that Eleanor and Park are ordinary, average kids is the highlight of the book. Teens that I spoke to that also loved this book emphasized that they saw themselves in E&P. Rowell writes the best romances because they feel like it can be true not out of our reach.

    p.s. Thanks for linking up my review!

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    1. Aww, that's perfect, that convinces me that both E and P are so genuine and relatable compared to a lot of other characters in YA fiction. Thanks, Rummanah :)

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  8. I preferred Fangirl, too, but I so enjoy her writing style :)

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    1. Yes!! I'm curious how her adult stuff compares.

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  9. Wonderful review. I've only read one of her adult books actually - Attachments. I really liked it, so I hope you do too. I've owned Eleanor & Park for awhile now though so I really need to get with it. I also really really really want to read Fangirl because I'm pretty sure I can relate on so many levels. PLUS, I need to read it before Carry On comes out this Fall.

    -lauren

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    1. Ooh yes you must read Fangirl!! I think you would like it too. And I can't wait to get to Attachments!

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  10. Gah!! I think blogger ate my previous comment.
    LOL
    Just wanted to say that I'm really glad you enjoyed this one, I loved it though it did cause some strong FEELS toward the end that weren't all that great (I had a oh no, then SQUEEEE!!! moment there).

    I do get you on the slight disconnect, but I remember I was into the story when I read it so I let it slide.

    :D

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    1. Aww, thank you, Alex :D I share your feelings!!

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  11. Recently I've been feeling like trying my hand at Fangirl again, and you're a big fan of it, you say? Intriguing! I'll give it a shot on your recommendation.

    I'm glad this was a four star, enjoyable read for you, Aylee! I enjoyed it so much and loved Rainbow's writing and the simplicity of the moments Eleanor and Park spent together, how much they meant no matter how small they were. I wasn't really into the ending, at all, and the way he treated her early on raised my proverbial hackles, but their romance felt really well done, to me. Sorry it wasn't as smooth going, in that area, for you! This definitely felt like a standout, not what you'll find often contemporary. I'm still not over the ending, but... thinking about it, it's probably one of my favourite contemporarys, anyway.
    Lovely review.xx

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    1. I do so hope you give Fangirl another go, Romi!! It's one of my all-time faves!!

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  12. Yay :D So happy that you mostly loved this book Aylee. <3 Gorgeous review :) It has been ages since I read it.. but it was a five star for me :) Though the ending. Ugh. I'm still pissed about the ending :p Anyway. Yay for liking it :D

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    1. Heh, I kind of liked the open ending :)

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  13. I'm also one of those people who read Fangirl before Eleanor & Park haha. Except I haven't actually read the latter yet. I'm sorry to hear it's not as good as Fangirl, but I'm glad you enjoyed it and how unique it was!

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    1. Not as good, but still pretty damn great I'd say!

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