Review: Eleanor & Park (Rowell)

AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press
PUBLICATION DATE: February 26, 2013
ISBN: 9781250012579
PAGES: 325
SOURCE: public library
GENRE: realistic/contemporary romance

SUMMARY: When the weird new girl boards the school bus, no one wants to scoot over so she can sit down. No one except Park, who only does so reluctantly. At first, Park wants nothing to do with sharing his bus seat with Eleanor, but she starts to grow on him.

REVIEW: Loved it! It’s touching, heartbreaking, and just so darn sweet. Park and Eleanor are both believable characters, and I bought their romance hook, line, and sinker. Best of all, it’s not insta-love–Park falls a little quickly, but I wholly believe he truly loves her when he says it. The romance takes its time, and I love how honest both characters are with themselves. The relationship isn’t perfect–they argue, play mind games, disagree, are insecure, and even lie to each other–but that’s life. Love is new to both of them, and they are learning to be a couple in a realistic way.

Alternating viewpoints. My favorite!

And the 1980s references! So many songs, games, TV shows, movies, all naturally incorporated into the story. The setting really works for this one because it makes it so much simpler, sweeter. No cell phones. No social media. Families that eat together. Kids playing in the park. It’s not a perfect time, but it sure feels simpler. Ah, nostalgia!

I also love the first page, which sets up the outcome of the relationship. I loved knowing that it would ultimately end and wondering why Park misses Eleanor. Is he an old man, missing his recently-deceased wife? Is it simply a fight that occurs in the middle of the book? Did she die? Move? What happened???? Starting the story at the end really kept me turning the pages. The first page tells the reader that this story might not end happily, and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages until I found out.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful, sweet, absorbing. I loved every second.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I would LOVE to get this book for the library, but there are some mature themes and language in this one. High school librarians, however, should buy multiples.

READALIKES: The Storyteller (Michaelis); Pushing the Limits (McGarry)


  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: high; multiple uses of F-word, sh**, crude sexual talk
  • Sexuality: medium-high; no intercourse takes place, but sexual abuse/rape are central to the story; topless kissing; father thinks his son is homosexual
  • Violence: medium; ongoing spousal abuse, implied potential sexual abuse; two boys fight; bullying
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium; smell of marijuana, alcoholic adult
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