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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park (2012)

by Rainbow Rowell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
Granted, I only read the first chapter and found the F word so many times that I knew that it would not work for us so started seeing reviews.

Girl is abused by her father.

Slant on the Asian character that is anything but good.

This is children's literature?
  FaithLibrarian | Jul 5, 2014 |
I reviewed another book this week where I said that I rarely read YA because I am too old. I remember being a teen, and I can relate, but I cannot relate to the raw drama of teens at any honest emotional level any longer. I think I would have adored this book when I was 16, but my old lady self just couldn't go there. I could not figure out what would have attracted Park to Eleanor other than a deep desire to be the knight in shining armor. My old lady self knows that this savior complex is going to be a big problem for him in his adult relationships. That knowledge takes me out of the story too much. That is not to say that Eleanor was not a well-drawn and sympathetic character, simply that she was not a person likely to hold romantic appeal at that moment of her life. I know they both felt like misfits, but in very different ways. Anyway, my adult self gives a 3.5 and my 16 year old self would have given it a 5 so I am giving it a 4. As a side note, I read this with my 15 year old son, and he liked it, but did not love it. His issues were completely different than mine, but he would have given it a 3 or 4. ( )
  Narshkite | Jul 4, 2014 |
Eleanor is poor, and chubby, and redheaded, and unpopular. Park is kind of tangentially popular, but nerdy, and one of the only Asian kids in Omaha. So who would have thought they'd fall in love? But fall in love they do, in the way that only high-schoolers can. Their love story would be sweet and awesome for them, if life were easy. But it's not.

What can I say that hasn't already been said? It's a beautiful, three-dimensional story. The emotions feel real and the alternating view points give it serious depth. For some reason (possibly the mid-‘80s setting?) I didn’t really connect with the story on a personal level, but it’s still a beautiful, well-written book and I highly recommend it. ( )
  norabelle414 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Summary: There are politics to where you sit on the school bus, everyone knows that. So Park doesn't understand why the new girl, with her bright red hair and her weird clothes can't figure it out. Eventually, Park grudgingly allows her to sit next to him… a decision that will change both of their lives. Eleanor is back living with her mom, younger siblings, and stepdad, and her situation is pretty awful: the bullies at school are bad, being home is far worse, and her one bright spot is riding the bus with Park, who slowly begins acknowledging her presence. Park initially doesn't want to jeopardize his tenuous social standing by being friendly to the decided misfit Eleanor, but little by little he comes to realize how much he likes her… and needs her. But with so much standing in the way - much of it their own inexperience and insecurities - can they even hope to have a successful relationship?

Review: That summary feels really weak, but the truth is, the plot to this book is fairly straightforward: Eleanor has a severely messed-up home life, Park does not, they meet, they fall for each other, but the course of true love never did run smooth, etc. It is not a particularly original plot. The book itself references Romeo & Juliet, for goodness' sake. But the magic of this book is how amazingly well Rowell captures the joy and the pain and the tension and the angst of all of the little steps in between.

I loved this book. Really, really loved it. It felt honest and raw and true, and it captures the ways that first love is wonderful, and the ways in which it truly, truly sucks. It is in turns hilariously funny and heartwrenchingly sad, not to mention painfully awkward - just like being a teenager.

"All through first and second and third hour, Eleanor rubbed her palm.
Nothing happened. How could it be possible that there were that many nerve endings all in one place?
And were they always there, or did they just flip on whenever they felt like it? Because, if they were always there, how did she manage to turn doorknobs without fainting?"
Maybe this was why so many people said it felt better to drive a stick shift." --Location 1009

(That scene was obviously immediately after a very sexy hand-holding scene. I do love me some sexy hand-holding.)

I recognized a lot of myself (or maybe my younger self) in both of the characters. My family life was much more similar to Park's than Eleanor's (thank goodness!), and I recognized a lot of the dynamics there. But I also recognized a lot of went on inside Eleanor's head, and I recognized the anxiety and stress and not-fitting-in of both of them… and the giddyness and longing and small miracles of first love, too. (Like I said, about the hand-holding.)

"There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me." --Location 4411

"You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you'll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away." --Location 4545

I don't know that I'm doing a great job conveying why this is such a great book, but it really, really was. I got sucked in and read (almost) the whole thing in a single day. (I could have finished it all, but I had to get up early the next morning and I could tell there was an emotional wringer coming, so I saved the last bit of it for the next day.) It's one of those books that's so full of emotion that it fills you up from the inside without making you feel manipulated, because it's so unflinchingly honest. It's just really, really good. 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: John Green's books are the most obvious read-alike, but anyone who likes contemporary teen fiction or who gets a touch nostalgic for their high school true love should really enjoy this book as well. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Jun 30, 2014 |
Eleanor's the new kid in town with a troubled home life, and Park is the sensitive, comic-book-reading, pop-music expert who lets her sit with him on the bus. They develop a friendship and then a romance through which they each help one another and themselves become more comfortable in their skins and negotiate their families (for her, an abusive step-father and passive mother, for him a Korean mother and veteran father neither of whom can he quite figure out how to relate to). The story alternates between Eleanor's and Park's points of view and does so convincingly. The period (mid-eighties) detail is good, the high-school atmosphere (especially the dynamics of The Bus Ride) are pretty much as I remember them, Eleanor and Park are both neat individuals it's a treat to spend some time with, and their friendship/love is believable in all its intensity and bright-teenagerhood. I enjoyed the book a lot and was disappointed to have to leave its world when it was over, but I have to nitpick for a second because I had a hard time buying that Eleanor's family life would have gone on as it was written without intervention. (I get a wee bit spoilery below.)

The situation is this: Eleanor lives with her step-father, mother, and four younger siblings in a dilapidated house with an un-enclosed toilet and bathtub in the kitchen. She and her siblings (a twelve-year-old brother, an eight-year-old sister, a five-year-old brother, and a baby step-brother) all sleep in the same room, about half of them on the floor. Her mother rarely leaves the house. The children dress in clothes that do not fit and are often in serious disrepair. Her step-father grew up in the neighborhood and is known to be a drunk, unstable, and violent. Four of the five children attend school regularly. Eleanor has a guidance counselor who is portrayed as someone who cares (though not someone Eleanor is willing to talk to.) The police respond to a 911 call at one point and come to the house to find that Eleanor has climbed out a window to run to the neighbor's house to use the phone because she heard gunshots in the house. They cannot fail to observe the general state of things in the house (toilet and tub in the kitchen, five children of widely varying ages and both genders sleeping in one room). Park's parents know Eleanor's dad is bad news bears and give Eleanor a standing invitation to come over after school and for supper whenever she wants because they think it must be better at their house than hers (this is pretty much exactly how Park's dad puts it to her.) Under these circumstances, how is it that not one person calls Child Protective Services to report this family? Or at least asks if everything is okay? I know teachers and counselors can miss things, that neighbors sometimes look the other way, et cetera, but this just rose to the point of disbelief for me. I think I could have bought it if it weren't for the police visit where they pretty much just accepted the step-father's non-explanation that everything was just fine and made Eleanor climb back through her bedroom window to unlock the door for them and let them in. They had to be either the most incompetent policemen ever or good friends with the step-dad. Neither was suggested. It really only would have taken a little nudging, a little suggestion to make me believe that her family situation was invisible to people who should be looking for that kind of thing (and that could have been its own kind of awful way of shining a light on this kind of thing), but it just wasn't there. And that diminished an otherwise good book for me. ( )
  lycomayflower | Jun 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
I have never seen anything quite like “Eleanor & Park.” Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story — but I have seen those. It’s set in 1986, and God knows I’ve seen that. There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen “Eleanor & Park.” Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, John Green (Mar 8, 2013)

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rainbow Rowellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorovoy, AnnaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grlic, OlgaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, HarrietCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Forest, Jade, Haven, and Jerry - and everyone else in the back of the truck
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He'd stopped trying to bring her back.
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"Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try"--

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