Book Review: Eleanor & Park


After last week's tidal wave of wisdom from The Supper of the Lamb, I felt the only way to tackle THIS week's reading was to go the opposite direction, namely Teen Lit. Enter Eleanor & Park a book by Rainbow Rowell.

Which, before we begin, raises the question: Who names their daughter Rainbow?  Unicorn parents maybe? Whoever they are, I love them!!! I hope Rainbow enjoys her name because it's amazing...

But, the more pertinent question is, how well does Rainbow tell a story? (May I use your first name, Rainbow? It honestly makes me smile.)

The answer is, quite well.

Since the target audience for this book is the John Green Fault in Our Stars/Paper Towns/ Saving Alaska crowd, the book is properly set in the world of teenage love and is filled with all kinds of broken relationships.

There are abusive parents, insensitive siblings, and mean kids on the bus.  There are awkward settings, impossible problems, and serious misunderstandings.  But there is also love, optimistic and new.

In other words, everything you would expect and nothing particularly surprising.  That said, Rainbow does a great job at making you enjoy the characters.  You hurt for Eleanor and cheer for Park. If you're a child of the 80's, you'll love the timely references.

But mostly you'll enjoy the well-paced, snappy writing. There are plenty of gems which are fun to read.

I loved this thought:

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Isn't that a lovely sentiment? Wouldn't you love to have someone say you look like art?

Later Eleanor and Park talk about music; Eleanor is gushing about a song and says,

“I just want to break that song into pieces and love them all to death.”

Yes!  I have loved music like that same way.  Well said indeed.

Page after page the descriptions flowed and I enjoyed the journey.  Even though the book deals with teenage angst, the story is a light, easy read.

You don't need much context to understand this next quote, but you should know that Eleanor has a unique look and at times Park has to get over being self-conscious about her appearance.

“He’d thought he was over caring what people thought about him. He’d thought that loving Eleanor proved that. But he kept finding new pockets of shallow inside himself.”

I may start referring to my issues as "new pockets shallow."

Even the sappy teenage love-speak works. For instance,

“He tried to remember how this happened - how she went from someone he'd never met to the only one who mattered.”


“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always.”

This isn't a life-changing, I'm-sad-it's-over, you-MUST-read, kind of book.  But if nice and easy is what you're looking for and you want to spend time with characters you'll enjoy, this is a solid option.

Plus the author's name is Rainbow.