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Eleanor & Park
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on January 1, 2014
I doubt that I fall into the 'target market' for this book. I'm not even sure what a young adult is. Should I recommend this book for my 14 year old grandson? But then I don't think any of these labels or definitions matter at all when the book under question is a really well-written book as is "Eleanor and Park" (EP). I was attracted to it because I had read many complimentary reviews and found it on a number of lists of 2013 best books. And I was in the mood for something different. And EP is very different from my normal crime fiction/spy novel selections, a nice break. Park is sitting on the school bus one morning as usual, when he looks up during one of the stops and spots an obviously new student , lost and frozen in place, looking for a "safe" seat to claim. Her style is all her own right up to the mass of tangled bright red locks crowning her dome (see the cover). Park, anxious to break the tension created by a yelling bus driver ("sit down!"), makes room for her, utters the standard expletive, and gets results.....she sits. It's not a Bogart-Bergman moment. But slowly and tenderly a relationship develops, and it becomes evident that this author knows how to pace her story. But Ms. Rowell's skills go far beyond. She may not know her audience, but she knows her characters, and not just her main ones, but high schooler's parents, siblings and teachers as well. The dialog rings true and spot on. Here are two people who first appear as suited for each other as oil and water, but gradually mesh together in perfect sync. They have their ups and downs, and they face problems from parents and other students, but they are honest and have few pretentions - and they are in love. And their romance works and the story does as well, all the way till the very end. So I recommend this highly - for "young adults" of all ages.
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on October 19, 2017
5 stars

“Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

Can you all believe I had never read this book until now? Yeah, neither can I. Because that is CRAZY! To be fair, I put it off a lot. In a weird way that doesn't make sense, I didn't want to ruin Fangirl. And this book didn't, I still love Fangirl, I just have a different kind of love for Eleanor and Park.

This book is about two outcast teens who become friends when they are forced to sit next to each other on the bus to and from school. At first, they don't really understand each other, but as time goes by, they want to get to know each other and develop an amazing friendship, and then romance.

“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.”

This is going to be a shorter review because I think everyone has already said all the things about this book. But MY HEART. This book made me wish that men like Park existed in real life, because no man could measure up to this guy. And Eleanor, I bled for that girl. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was beautiful and that someone cared.

Anyways, if you are stupid like me and haven't read this book, you need to correct this giant mistake asap. You won't regret this one!

“I don't like you, Park," she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. "I..." - her voice nearly disappeared - "think I live for you."
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
"I don't think I even breathe when we're not together," she whispered. "Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it's been like sixty hours since I've taken a breath. That's probably why I'm so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we're apart is think about you, and all I do when we're together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I'm so out of control, I can't help myself. I'm not even mine anymore, I'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me? How could you want me like I want you?"
He was quiet. He wanted everything she'd just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with 'I want you' in his ears.”
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on April 20, 2017
Eleanor & Park Review
In the fictional novel, Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell tells a story about the experience of two teenagers falling in love for the first time. The setting takes place in Omaha, Nebraska, during the mid 1980’s and goes on for a school year. Eleanor and Park are the main protagonist who share similarities and differences in their lifestyle and aren’t your common teenagers which ultimately brings them together. The reader gets to experience their relationship journey they share throughout the story.
The theme depicts on how love at first sight isn’t what it really seems to be. The main strength of the novel is how Rainbow Rowell establishes the reality of love at a young age. The focus of this novel is how she captures the relatability of the first experience of getting to know each other, holding hands, being alone together, and kissing. Although the relationship experience can be relatable to current couples, the pop culture during that time, many young readers today may have a hard time to relate to the novel. Eleanor and Park may be the most interesting novel to people who have experienced that time era.
It may be a fourth grade level book and is rated pg-13, but from a parent’s perspective this wouldn’t be recommended to young readers because of the vulgarity. The plot contains a lot of profanity that young readers shouldn’t experience but for young teenagers who are interested in learning that time era may enjoy reading this book.
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on January 26, 2018
I previously read Fangirl and really liked it, so I was kind of disappointed with this.

This is a romance between two teenagers set in the 80s, and the perspective alternates between Eleanor, who is an awkward red-head with a terrible home life and Park, a kind of nerdy mixed-race kid with nice parents.

The main problem I had with this was that I didn’t really buy into the romance, which was almost completely the whole story. Eleanor had kind of a prickly personality which was understandable, but just meant her parts were kind of frustrating to read at times.

I also felt like the author did kind of a bad job dealing with race. It seemed like she shoehorned in some black sidekick type characters, but they felt completely flat. Pretty much every other character, even the bullies and Eleanor and Park’s parents had some type of layer/dimension to them. But the black characters seemed like they were partially there to fill the “sassy black friend”stereotype and partially there to make Eleanor’s character seem progressive and not racist.

Also, I thought it was weird that Park was named Park, given that that’s a common surname in Korea... I was waiting for that to be explained in the book, but it never was (unless I missed it). I also could have done without describing Asian characters as having “almondy” eyes and mixed race characters as having honey skin or whatever. That’s so common I’m books and I feel like there just has to be better ways to describe people of color and mixed race characters.
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on November 19, 2015
Oh, this book.

Reading it is like being 15 all over again. Rowell tells a simple, lovely story of falling in love but makes it so, so much bigger than a high school romance. This was our book club pick for September, and I was so happy to have an excuse to read it again. It was one of those books that I initially checked out from the library to see what all the hype was about and then instantly bought a hardcover copy of my own.

Eleanor is poor. She’s also chubby, wears all the wrong clothes, and has no way to listen to The Smiths.

Park is Korean-American. His family is firmly middle-class, he does taekwondo, and he has all the comics, batteries, and blank cassette tapes his heart desires.

And Eleanor can’t figure out why on earth Park cares about her.

And Park has no idea what Eleanor sees in him.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is their story. From the first time Park slides his hand into hers (“Holding Eleanor’s hand felt like holding a butterfly.”) to their first and only date (“It was just that kind of night. Every time she looked at him, he was looking back at her.”), it’s a story that sticks in your head and your heart and makes you relive those full-color moments that only exist when falling in love for the first time.

My full review here: http://www.inkwellsandimages.com/2015/09/10/story-in-review-eleanor-park-by-rainbow-rowell/
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on July 10, 2014
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a story of teenage life, plain and simple. It's also a love story, but mostly it's just normal, everyday, mundane and terrible, teenage life. It was an incredible read.

What a beautiful rendition of a not so shiny life with not so shiny kids. One kinda overweight; one half Asian. Both dealing with different things on the same side of the tracks. Drawn to each other because of circumstances not beauty and instant love. It all felt so real and perfect in its non perfection.

We get both perspectives, flipping back and forth from Eleanor to Park. Hearing the same things from both brains with different interpretations was like a revelation and confirmation all at the same time. Park thinks Eleanor is touching him gently because she doesn't want him as much as he wants her. Eleanor is touching him gently because she doesn't want to do it wrong. These little moments were so brilliant in their simplicity.

With a stunning not-so-perfect ending and very straight forward, teenage-esque writing, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. It was real. Really real.
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on March 15, 2015
Eleanor and Park is the most wonderful romance I've ever read. As a romance, it's better than Romeo and Juliet (hahahaha) (though it offers the best deconstruction of Romeo and Juliet that I've ever read, through 16-year-old protagonist Eleanor), better than Pride and Prejudice, better than anything I've ever read or seen.

This is a young adult book. I wish someone would write a story like this for adults but I've never found one (and I've just read Rainbow Lowell's Landline, which was good, but not the same at all.)

16 year old is brilliant and weird and feminist. She's the new girl at school, and is either ignored or picked on. She has a very difficult home life, four younger siblings, red hair, and no friends. She is fat and very smart.

But many romance heroines have smart, interesting heroines. The heroes, on the other hand, are rarely nice. (Minor spoilers below.)

But Park is probably the nicest 16 year old ever. He is somewhat geeky, even though he's sort-of friends with the most popular kids. He's always polite to his parents -- the only way he defies them is when he starts wearing eyeliner and continue to see Eleanor, which makes me like him even more.

They are the cutest adorablest couple, but other people aren't so nice, and there is plenty of angst and conflict too. If you like nice heroes and smart heroines and romances that begin in friendship and mutual interests, this is the book for you.
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on November 5, 2013
I know I'm not the only one who finds it tough to write a review of a fantastic book, so I'm just going to jump right in.

Eleanor and Park were such a adorable, real couple. I loved how they started off—not speaking to each other on the bus, not even liking each other all that much—and I loved how their friendship steadily progressed—a shared comic book on the bus, no words at all, to more and more shared words, borrowing and lending comic books. The sweetest, most heart-melting, first hand-holding experience ever. A cute first kiss. Eleanor realizing little details about Park and Park realizing little details about Eleanor. A sweet and slow descent into first love that just made my. Heart. Melt.

Eleanor & Park is a coming of age love story done right. It was a love story between two very average teenagers. It was a love story that didn't just feature the couple, but their insecurities, their hardships, and their families as well. It was a love story that wasn't padded with unnecessary fluff, and wasn't dressed up too fancily grand moments of swoon. The romance was simple—baby steps were taken and the smallest moments were the biggest.

The romance stole the show for me in this book, but I also loved how the other pieces came into play. The themes of bullying, social pressures, and self-image stood out the most to me. They all went hand-in-hand with each other, and even meshed well with Eleanor and Park's relationship. When the two struggled, they learned to lean on one another, to help one another out. They learned how to become more comfortable with each other and with themselves.

Overall, Eleanor & Park lived up to every expectation I had of it and more. It made my heart melt. It made my heart hurt. I loved the central couple and the struggles they went through and the journey of first love they went on together. I loved the beautiful writing that made so many little moments my favorites. I loved how real it felt, and ultimately, I just loved that I got to read it.

Eleanor & Park can be loved and appreciated by many people, and I highly, highly recommend reading it and witnessing Eleanor and Park's wonderful journey yourself.
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on September 22, 2014
I read this book in two or three days which meant that I kept going back to it and didn't want to stop reading.

Eleanor's story really broke my heart. I could totally relate to being an unwanted teenager but although I couldn't (personally) relate to her monster of a stepfather Richie (my stepfather is a wonderful person) I felt such fear every time she walked into her house and such loathing and contempt for Richie.

I also loved Park - his kindness and caring for Eleanor throughout the book just warmed my heart.

What I had a difficult time with was the endless descriptions of their sexual explorations - that just seemed a little too YA for me.

From that (YA) perspective, I would only have given the book three stars but because I felt the author was writing such a vivid and personal story about an unwanted and emotionally abused teenage girl, I would have given the book five stars so I settled on four.

All in all I liked the book - it reminded me how really hard it is to be a teenager and how cruel kids can be and how powerless I felt at times over my own life and destiny when I was that age.
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on January 4, 2014
This book took my heart on a roller coaster ride. It was soaring higher and higher, but I know there'd be a drop at some point. Even though I knew the bad was coming, every page was filled with a simple sweetness that had me smiling like a giddy schoolgirl experiencing her first crush for the first time.

Eleanor stands out. She's got bright red hair, wears a strange collection of clothing, and isn't the skinny girl everyone else is. Park is just on the edge of being part of the "cool crowd." When Park grudgingly lets Eleanor share his school bus seat, neither of them have any idea of the friendship nor relationship they are about to begin. Park doesn't really like Eleanor to begin with, but after he catches her reading his comics, a friendship starts up. From there, things just continue to grow until they're experiencing their first taste of young, teen love. It's simple, sweet, and perfect.

Eleanor doesn't have the best home life, but I loved how she didn't let that get her too down. It affected her attitude, but it didn't bring her down. She still faced every day with determination, and after Park became her boyfriend, happiness. She's incredibly strong, in that she doesn't give up even though it would be so easy for her to say that getting out of bed wasn't worth trying.

Park knows the group of cool kids, and calls himself friends with them, but he's not really a part of their life. He's just on the outside, but not enough for it to affect his high school credibility. He worries about what others think of him and that affects his relationship with Eleanor. Even so, they are able to work through it and come out stronger for it. He has so many sweet little moments throughout the book that I lost track of them all.

There were so many little hints as to what would be happening to Eleanor and Park that I knew when everything came out, it would hurt. It wasn't difficult to figure out where the problem would come from, but when everything finally came out, my heart just seized up. It was sudden and horrible, but even in the midst of all the bad, Park remained his sweet and steady self, and I think that's what made it hurt even more.

Eleanor and Park is one of those books that makes you as happy as it does crushes your heart. Even so, you can't help but fall in love with Eleanor, Park, and their young love. It will leave you twitterpated. I'm looking forward to reading more from Rowell, especially if it gives me the flutters Eleanor and Park gave me.
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