Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
Series: None
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 3 stars
Word Rating: Disappointment
Reviewed by: Melanie
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Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK 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. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.


'"I want everyone to meet you. You're my favorite person of all time."'





Disappointed. Dismayed. At loss. Empty. Any more synonyms for just plain disappointed?

Eleanor and Park was a gigantic puzzle that had not been pieced together quite properly and missed a few puzzle pieces. I felt that the actions didn't always match the tone, vice versa. Also, there were missing themes to what I expected to be addressed, as after all, what would so many people cry at the end? (I certainly did not.) Turns out, Rowell's novel was leaning towards to thinner and fluffier side of contemporary. Don't misunderstand me, topics like violence, family, poverty and ethnic populations were pitched however lacked depth and importance. Eleanor and Park is a novel about first love and what can go wrong.

In Rowell's novel, one of the main spotlights is on Eleanor. And she is not an easy character to like. I thought she lacked something called, Confidence with a capital 'C'. Her self-depreciation and self-consciousness was nothing awfully exiting to look forward to and her sensitivity just made me want to rip my soul out. I see how some people can deal with her- she's not exactly top model material, poor, has harsh family conditions and lost. I believe the most gut wrenching element was the abusive step father, it created unsettling dynamics in the household and added a bitterly desperation for Eleanor. Nonetheless, her worry of her self-pity catapults all empathy possible to last strong.

Enter Park, half Korean. Unlike Eleanor he's home life is orderly and his social life comes a close second in school. Gladly, his personality was more likeable than Eleanor's yet still, his 'flawless' elements tampered with his demeanour a fair bit. I somewhat portray his as a love struck, lost boy. Nothing too swoony, but I appreciated his indifference towards Eleanor's habits.

Nerdy, awkward and new, the romance here was, pretty bittersweet. The baby steps taken to build up this chemistry was certainly those adjectives I mentioned above. I guess that's what first love is all about, kinda shaky and foreign in a sense, but so sure and needy as well. Mind you, I was no fan of the angst. In fact, it faintly reminded me of Pushing the Limits, only the main characters weren't as 'attractive' and the romance wasn't as 'steamy'.

Call me cynical but I rave deeper and moodier issues being fleshed out. Unfortunately, Eleanor and Park was not that and I was not exactly in the mood for some off beat angst that contained a cute at the same time. A little like a misshapen puzzle piece, Eleanor and Park is a book based solely on first love- and all the pros and cons to it.

17 comments :

  1. Hmm, I really enjoyed Eleanor & Park, I was looking for a sweet novel and that's what I got, shame you expected something totally different, that gets really off putting for me as well. But I can agree that Eleanor got really frustrating with her self pity.

    Lovely review, Mel! :)

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    1. I guess expectations can ruin the experience completely, eh. Glad you enjoyed this one more. :D

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  2. I've been meaning to read this one so I shall lower my expectations. I wasn't a huge fan of Pushing the Limits so yeah... worried. Brilliant review, hon!

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    1. I rather enjoyed PTL and this wasn't as good. The two were very similar but completely different at the same time. (I don't think that makes sense...lol)

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  3. I'm sorry to hear this didn't work for you, Melanie. I've seen a lot of positive reviews so it's good to get the other side as well. I'll know to lower my expectations if I pick this up. Thanks for the honest review. :)

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    1. I recommend you do. Thanks, chick! <33

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  4. Sorry to hear this one was a disappointment for you - hope your next read will be better!

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  5. In all honesty I didn't even finish this one. So many people loved it and then when I picked it up I just couldn't do it. It tried to be harsh and sweet at the same time and the mix just didn't work well. And Eleanor, don't get me started on her... Great review!

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    1. If I were in a bad mood that day, I don't think I would've finished it either. I am in complete agreement.

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  6. Eleanor sounds like a tough character to like. I'm glad you still liked the novel even though you found it missing some things. I've actually been looking forward to reading this novel for some time but I'll leave it on my TBR list for a little longer. Great review though!

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    1. Thanks love, I look forward to what you think! This seems to produce many mixed thoughts.

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  7. I really enjoyed this book but as anything, it's not for everyone. I haven't read Pushing the Limits either.

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  8. Sorry this one didn't out for you. I wasn't one to cry at the end, but I did like the writing and the characters. I do agree with you that the themes weren't probed as deep as they could have been, probably due to the romantic storyline. That and the abusive stepfather, which seemed out of the blue. I hope your next read won't be as disappointing!

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    1. I heard that The Book Depo recommended to buy tissues when buying this novel, I seriously don't get what's there to cry about. *confused look*

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  9. I didn't find this book nearly as melodramatic as PTL which is why I liked it more. I don't know about needing to buy tissues though as the ending wasn't that sad.

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  11. This was a fun, quick read. I enjoyed it for the story itself, but if you are looking for a deep read, this is not.

    Marlene Detierro (Boiler Service)

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