Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellBook Title/Author: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
: St. Martin’s Press 2013
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Attachments

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An AWESOME friend gifted it to me which is a testament to how much this book meant to her.





It’s 1986 and Eleanor & Park, two misfits and an unlikely pair, are thrust together in the seat of school bus on Eleanor’s first day at her new school. Eleanor, with her wild red hair and unusual clothing, makes Park feel uncomfortable and she seems to be everywhere these days. As a romance begins to bud, despite all odds, the two realize how hard it is to hold onto love and keep it safe in this sometimes cruel and unfair world.

I may as well just tell you this is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year though I feel like I’m the last one to experience this. It’s easy to let hype make a book not live up to all of the “OMG AMAZING’s” I’ve heard about it but I didn’t really know much about it at all…except that everyone was raving like crazy. Eleanor & Park is worthy of the praise and magnificently written in every way. I almost feel like I have nothing to say about it because it was like book perfection to me and how can even capture that in a review? You should just know, that if I were Oprah (pretty much my life long dream), I would be all “and one for YOU and one for YOU and copies for EVERYONE.”

Eleanor & Park was, without a doubt, one of the sweetest love stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading between two of the most charming, yet not always perfect, characters. There’s those love stories that are whirlwind romances or ones that develop really dramatically or ones that are super sexy. And then there’s Eleanor & Park. On the surface it strikes you as this very quietly budding romance but, like a duck swimming in water, underneath the surface my heart was beating furiously and frantically because of the charming and swoony nature of the romance and the unbelievably realistic tension Rainbow Rowell wrote as this love story developed. And by the end? I’m certain I couldn’t breathe. One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. God, my heart is beating a little bit faster thinking about this story as I write. I was completely invested in their story and very, very emotional by the end.

I loved a lot of things about this novel — the writing, the characters, the plot, the perfectly written dual narrative, the 80’s setting and pop culture, etc. But the thing I loved most? HOW their story developed until the very end. It was so REAL. Every new interaction and “next step” made me swoon and took me back to those younger years when every single moment of “falling in love” was disgustingly significant in the best way possible. A grazing of a hand to yours accidentally? OMG. TINGLING. The first phone conversation? MY HEART IS BEATING FASTER. Seeing that person waiting by your locker? CAN I EVEN MOVE STILL? The first kiss? BOOM DEAD. FOREVER AND EVER WILL I FEEL THEIR LIPS. Remember all those feels?? Well, Rainbow Rowell was magically able to capture my adolescence in a bottle and spill it onto the pages in a way where I was able to relive all that tension and moments where my heart almost jumped out of my chest. I felt what it was like to be young and falling in love and how all the external forces and your own darn head make that really, really hard sometimes.

Friends, I feel like I’m failing you in trying to explain how fantastic this book was for me. I don’t want to say too much but I don’t want to say too little so that you pass it up. I just want you to experience it.  My next book feels like the sacrificial lamb because what could I read next that won’t pale in comparison?


Eleanor & Park was book perfection for me.  I was smitten with the characters and felt like I was falling in love right with them as Rainbow Rowell wrote a beautiful budding romance that was perfectly plotted and made my heart beat faster in the quiet moments as well as the more emotionally gut punching moments. My heart soared high and broke hard for many reasons. It’s not just a love story but a testament to how beautiful and special love is in a sometimes cruel and unfair world that is seemingly hellbent on keeping you down for being different. This book is special, you guys.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell book review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it?? Did every swoony moment make your heart explode with feels?? What about the end?? AHH.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. So wow… so you say this book is that awesome?!?!?! I heard so many good things about this book but for some reason never really read it… But.. I can’t hold back now after your excitement 🙂

  2. YES to all of that. It’s totally a book you just have to experience because of all of the things you can’t really explain. But the HANDHOLDING – best thing ever. It was the most intense thing ever and to be honest, the first time they held hands I knew I was deeply in love with their story. So incredible. Love your thoughts on this boo and I’m so glad you loved it, too!

  3. I’ve heard SO MANY amazing things about this book, but I’m still scared to read it! Why? I’m scared of the ending. This just seems like a heartbreaking book, but I don’t want it to end badly. 🙁 I’m so terrified.

  4. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer) says:

    Um, holy shiznet, but I believe that I HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK YET. If Eleanor & Park is book freaking perfection for, then it’s KIND of a book that I need to pick up ASAP, dontcha think? I can even begin to imagine how Rainbow Rowell captured The Romance (yes, that deserves a capital T and R) in this book. It sounds oh-so-special and just mind-blowingly beautiful. I think you captured your thoughts quite well for this book, Jamie! Thank you for the wonderful review <3

  5. You’re definitely not the last person to have read this one. I’m dying to, but the wait is SO LONG at my public library. I’ve heard SO MANY good things about it!

  6. This book was so, so wonderful. Like you, my favorite part of it was how authentically it captured the feeling of a first crush, a first relationship, a first real love. I was really swept up in the emotions of the story – and I’m still thinking about it months later. I’m very glad that you loved this one!


    This is definitely going to be one of the books that I buy next. I have heard absolutely no bad things about this book, and your review just made me 10x more excited!

  8. I need to read this!!!! It sounds like such a great read. 🙂 I’m glad that you liked the story development, I’ll be looking forward to that. To me, that’s one of the most important things, besides the characters. Great review!!

  9. I only just read this book this weekend, so i know what you mean by feeling like your the last to experience this! I have to say the development between Eleanor and Parka relationship really was my favourite part of the book aside from maybe the realness of it and the 80’s music mentions 🙂

  10. Wow, what an amazing recommendation! Adding this to my ‘to read’ list straight away 🙂

  11. Yes, yes, a million times over! I absolutely loved this book. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. I know my review did NOT do it justice (I can’t even go back and read my review. I know it’ll just disappoint me) and it’s so hard when a book is that emotional and THAT GOOD to capture ALL THE FEELS and put them down in words.
    I am ecstatic to meet Rainbow Rowell tonight! I want to hug her. I bought a copy of the book just so I could get it signed and give it away because people need to read this!!!!
    You did a great job putting into words! Beautiful review!

  12. *flails arms around* *puts caps lock on and uses !!!! too much* This is how I wanted to write my review of E&P but you nailed it on the head. I can’t wait to read Attachments and everything else Rainbow writes.

  13. Great review! John Green wrote another glowing review in the NYT. This one is going on my TBR list.

  14. I downloaded it yesterday. I’m also in a giveaway entered to win a physical copy, but at least I have it on e-book! (I love that your dream is to be Oprah. She’s pretty cool!) And how you described how the author did first love. Man, authors just don’t GET IT a lot of times. They throw in a few sweaty palms moments but it’s more than that. It’s SO much more, so that alone makes me want to really read this book. 🙂

  15. I think you liked this one, hmm? 😉

    After I finish my current read I am FINALLY going to pick this up and I hope I love it just as much as everyone. It’s so great when you see a book get such high marks across the board, and from so many different personalities.

    Have you read Attachments? Elena gifted me that one + I thought it was just incredible too.

  16. Great review! I’ve just been trying to decide if I want to go to a Rainbow Rowell book signing this week, and now I know my answer. YES! How could I NOT?! I definitely need to read this book ASAP!

  17. This really was a great book! I wouldn’t say it was my absolute favourite, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. And I’m definitely interested in reading more from Rainbow!

    Great review!

  18. I am stealing this from my classroom library today 🙂

  19. Wow, book perfection, that is high praise and is now making me place this book at the top of my TBR list. I’ve been kind of scared to read it because of all the high praise and yet it sounds adorable and like so much fun. I need to read it NOW!! 😀

  20. I have it. It’s at home waiting for a read-along, but I really, REALLY want to read it NOW after this crazy review.

    Did you cry?

  21. Yes, exactly. This book is special. I wasn’t sure if it was for me, and decide to read a few pages to make a decision. But once I picked it up, I couldn’t stop!

  22. I bought this while it was on sale for the Kindle this weekend, and I’m planning on making it my next read! I think I have yet to read a less-than-glowing review.

  23. I am reading this right now and I love it! Me and E&P are just having a blast right now, so I hope I’m going to love this book as much as you did. Your review is seriously awesome, and I’m balking just at the thought of writing a review!

  24. So glad you loved this one so much! I haven’t read it yet, but it’s set in the 80s and has to do with music, so you know I’ll get around to it someday! Great review!

  25. Recently I’ve been finding that I simply do not have time to read every single book that catches my eye, so I’ve been trying to read those books that really sound like good matches for me. I’m not sure if Eleanor & Park is – I’m not sure I really want to read a more “contemporary” teen love story like this sounds to be, nor am I too eager to read something in the 80s era. BUT THEN I read a review like yours, which forces me to reevaluate all of my preconceived notions. And I’m glad to know that this book has really been able to resonate with readers. I suppose I really should make room for Rainbow Rowell’s YA debut in my reading list. If so many reviewers love it, then I’m sure it’s great. I think your review definitely gives justice to the novel!

  26. I LOVED this! It was such a sweet, sometimes sad, wonderful book! I adored the characters, well, most of them anyway. This is a must read!

  27. I am soooo in love with this book!

  28. I definitely agree with you about how going up to the next step was so well done in this book. Personally, the entire time I read this book, my heart break for Eleanor. I wanted to just take away all of her pain.

    Lovely review, Jamie!

  29. I loved it too and all the realistic first love feelings. 🙂

  30. I’m so happy you loved this book, because I thought it was wonderful! Like you, I loved how their story developed and REALLY came to an end. No, I might not have been completely satisfied with the end, but I don’t even care because it suited the story so well. It was so authentic and beautiful and I can’t wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell’s books! Lovely review!

  31. Priscilla says:

    I already had this book on my TBR list, but with your review I think that I will buy it much sooner than expected!!!! Thank you, this highlights my week to know that such sweet books are waiting to be read 🙂
    Best regards from France!

  32. I love when you get so invested in a book and the characters within it. I am so excited to read this book, it sounds so sweet and amazing and your review sounds similar to all the other good things that have been said about it!

  33. I really need to read this book, I have heard so many good things about it and everyone keeps recommending it to me.

  34. Your review has caused me to bump this up on my TBR list! Yay. (:

  35. I had such a hard time with this book! I love love stories, and the 80’s are definitely a favorite time period. I had dreams of this book being a John Hugh’s film… But something just didn’t sit right with me. I enjoyed it but unfortunately it’s not on my favorite lady list. Perhaps it was just because I hurt so much for Eleanor and her situation. So glad you liked it though! Have you heard there’s a sequel?

  36. This is the second great review I’ve read of this! Definitely going to have to pick up a copy of this (or see if I can get it from the library). Sounds like its going to be right up there with Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door 🙂

  37. what a beautiful review. i found myself nodding along with enthusiasm and a comraderie, a connection of thoughts and a general feeling of knowing someone felt the same things you have felt. i love that you want to give this book to everyone you know. sometimes we give five stars to books that had a perfectly lovely story and it carried itself out in the way that you expected, and there was a happy ending…the book did nothing wrong. but in this case, the five stars feel inadequate and i found i couldn’t properly express how much this book meant to me. anyway, great review.

  38. I fell madly in love with this book as well!

  39. I read this book in one day. I couldn’t put it down! Love stories like this are my favorite, and this is definitely one of the best 🙂


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