Book Review – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

by Maryse on June 14, 2015 · 43 comments

in My Book Reviews

Eleanor & Park
Highly recommended by our crew here for months!! YEARS?!! Yes! And I purchased it a LONG time ago, and despite all of the HUGE love for this story… I kept it simmering on my TBR back burner. Why? WHO KNOWS?!! ‘Cause I don’t make any sense. I KNEW I’d love it. How could I knot when so many of my very own reading buds loved it like crazy (even the super-picky ones).

Was I just trying to torture myself? Deprive myself of pure reading pleasure that could last for an entire weekend (and even longer due to potential book-fogginess)? Deprive myself of future reminiscing of this book’s awesomeness?

YES! I LIKE TO BOOK-TORTURE MYSELF. Y’all know that. And apparently it extends so far as to awesome-book-deprivation. THIS book deprivation. Who in their right-reader-mind would deprive themselves of this? WHO!??? ME. That’s who.

See me talking about it on video, here

But then I got knocked in the head by one peanut too many (or finally one peanut-enough!) by our peanut gallery right here for not reading it, and I came to my senses.

MichelleS:  I MUST read Eleanor and Park. Bev hasn’t let me down yet…..

Jean: Know what bev, you are on! I know you guys wouldn’t steer me wrong and I need a definite winner! Eleanor and Park! Starting on my lunch hour!

Elizabeth: Eleanor and Park = I could read it again and again. Such a special book.

Sadie: Is E&P eleanor and park? If so, I’d like to join in. Also, I have been telling maryse to read “the kind worth killing” forever so I’ll throw some peanuts for them.

Amy: Sadie…yep, we’re talking about Eleanor and Park. :D Do we have a peanut vote from you as well for it?? We love book peer pressure around here!! And Maryse is usually the target of it. *giggle*

Sadie: Eleanor and Park!!!! OMG they get all the peanuts!

I made it my weekend read. See me talking about it on video, here!

You guys. It. Was. WONDERFUL!!!!! Eleanor & Park rocked my weekend!! Thanks to our “peanut gallery” for throwing all the extra peanuts at me for that one! SO GOOD!

Sadie: You can just highlight the whole book right?

Maryse: I’m on my way to it. LOL!

bev: I just fell through a rabbit hole reading E&P quotes. Makes me want to do a re read …..

Elizabeth: Eleanor and Park is a special book! One you won’t soon forget. I kicked myself for waiting to read that

Tracie: This book is so good. The audible is incredible

Maryse: Think I found myself a new fav author!! :)

Tracie: Oh my god!!! I am so in love with this book heart emoticon

R.C. I just finished Eleanor & Park last night (I listened to the audio book) and LOVED it! I saw it on your peanut list and could no longer resist it! As soon as I finished it, I had a couple of questions, so I went on an internet search. Did you know Rainbow Rowell is currently writing the screenplay for the movie?! It’s even listed on IMDB, although there’s not much there yet because it’s still in the preliminary stages. And she’s also mentioned the very real possibility of a sequel sometime in the future!

Claudia: Amazing..one of my favorite books, I have the eBook and the audio..lol

Sadie: So glad you are reading it! I want to cuddle with E&P.

Heartwarming and inspiring! And most of all? Real. In painful and humiliating ways. And in it’s ability to uplift and make whole again. Sometimes infuriating. Often, terrifying. But provocative and thrilling as two teens from completely different walks of life come together as friends. Best friends. And maybe even soulmates.

Thought provoking. Emotional. Humane. And desperately and terribly inhumane. From hiding just to not be noticed and being resigned to “wearing what little she has” forcing her TO BE noticed as the “weird girl” (in high school, no less) to eventually finding true friends… a place to feel at home… people to trust. Joy. From teenage fun and slight moments of self-centeredness to guilt over experiencing momentary joy while family members might be suffering.

So what’s it about?

Eleanor has just come “home” (<— that’s stretching it!) after a year in foster care after her step-father (Grrrrrrrr!!!! I HATE RICHIE!!) kicked her out of the house.

“What was it like?” Ben asked.

“What was what like?”

“Living with those people.”

The sun was about an inch above the horizon, and Eleanor looked hard at it. “Okay,” she said. Terrible. Lonely. Better than here.

Coming back “home” to live in poverty with an alcoholic and severely abusive (both mentally and physically) step-father, a terribly beaten mother, and 4 or 5 younger siblings that tremble each time he comes around.

…all she could think about was what they were going to do if the baby actually started to cry. Thank God he didn’t. Even he seemed to realize that trying to make this stop would only ever make it worse.

P.S. ALL of the children sleep in the same room. Food? A scarcity (except for HIS food, of course). He eats like a king. Clothing? Her mother has to hide any money she finds that he’s forgotten on his drunken nights out, so that she can buy them clothes at Goodwill. If he finds out she’s taken care of her children? HE RAGES. Oh my friends… the list goes on. He’s a piece of POO!

Maryse: Richie is the worst piece of poo. Ugh I’m shaking… Awesome book, but at times, so difficult to read.

Sadie: All the feels!

Sarah: Seriously! THOSE FEELS!!!

Tracie: I hated Richie

And he hates Eleanor most. He’s got it out for her. The eldest, and the one he centers most of his rage on… if it’s not at her mother first. And what SHE does (or doesn’t do) her mother is punished for, too. Eleanor has MUCH too much to deal with as a teenager at home, let alone the usual struggles of high-school bullies.

There are good and bad characters throughout this book, and they are at all different levels. From the usual bullies in her new high school (she dresses weird, her hair is weird, and she’s… socially awkward) that she’s an immediate outcast. They do their bully things (very bad at times),

“Tina was definitely a demon. A weird, miniature demon. Like a toy demon. Or a teacup. And she had a whole gang of lesser demons, all dressed in matching gym suits.”

but none of them compare to the terror she has to constantly face in her own “home”. She can’t even shower without racing and hiding so that he doesn’t notice her. UGH!!!! I HATE RICHIE!!!

Can you imagine?

But it’s not just that… because she DOES make friends. THE BEST of friends. From adults (like her counsellors) to teens that have true hearts and see through the “mess” that the cool kids see, Eleanor simply SHINES!! She’s poetic,

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

uniquely beautiful, highly intelligent and apparently… her smile lights up the world.

She should smile like that all the time, Park thought; it made her face cross over from weird to beautiful. He wanted to make her smile like that constantly.

Despite her “oddball” outside appearance, her life experience, and her dreams, make her who she is. Wonderful.

And then there’s Park. Not an outcast (maybe even somewhat popular, even though he’s not a part of their “crew”). But he’s got a great home life, a solid family, with all the typical father-son issues, and brother issues but… overall? Ideal.

Diane: but Park’s family is SO great! Loved them

Amy: Eleanor and Park is such a sweet and heartfelt book! Park’s mom cracked me up and annoyed me at the same time (but mostly cracked me up), but her reaction after seeing Eleanor with her family at the grocery store endeared her to me. I just wanted to wrap Eleanor in a big squeezy hug and make it all better for her.

Maryse: YES AMY!!! It was awesome and Park’s parents are the FREAKING BEST!!!!

And for some reason… while at first he’s affronted by this new girl that is forced to sit next to him… eventually, he’s intrigued.

Park tried to remember the first time he saw her. Because he could remember, on that day, seeing what everybody else saw. He could remember thinking that she was asking for it.…

That it was bad enough to have curly red hair. That it was bad enough to have a face shaped like a box of chocolates.

No, he hadn’t thought exactly that. He’d thought …

That it was bad enough to have a million freckles and chubby baby cheeks.

God, she had adorable cheeks.

And so commences the beautiful friendship (and the safety and belonging she feels for the first time)…

That feeling she used to have when she was sitting next to Park on the bus— that feeling that she was on base, that she was safe for the moment— she could summon it now. Like a force field. Like she was the Invisible Girl.

That would make Park Mr. Fantastic.

and the delightful slow burn!!! When he discreetly held her hand? *swooooooooon!!!!* She LIT up. WE lit up!!!!

How could it be possible that there were that many nerve endings all in one place? And were they always there, or did they just flip on whenever they felt like it? Because, if they were always there, how did she manage to turn doorknobs without fainting?

It is wonderful! From start to finish, from terrifying to tremendous. You will either be furious, irritated, laughing, swooning or crying and shaking (in both good and bad ways).

Because,” she said, “because my stepdad would kill me.”

“Why does he care?”

“He doesn’t care. He just wants to kill me.”

“Why?”

“Stop asking that,” she said angrily. There was no stopping the tears now. “You always ask that. Why. Like there’s an answer for everything. Not everybody has your life, you know, or your family. In your life, things happen for reasons. People make sense. But that’s not my life. Nobody in my life makes sense.…”

“Not even me?” he asked.

“Ha. Especially not you.”

My friends… don’t let the “teens from the 80′s” part scare you. Because these kids are NO different than us. Well… no different from some of you guys. I was a kid from the 80′s so I know exactly… well… everything they are talking ’bout, but believe me. Y’all from these newer generations will have NO problem connecting. The music might be “classic-coolness” and not of our generation but this book is ALL real life teenager.

Jill: Love that one. I bought some old CDs based off of this book alone.

Sharon: Loved loved loved this book. It will especially appeal to teenagers from the eighties

You knew kids like Eleanor and Park. Maybe you were them. Maybe you are them.

She never felt like she belonged anywhere, except for when she was lying on her bed, pretending to be somewhere else.

Haven’t we all felt that, at one time or another? *sigh* OMG it’s SOOOOO GOOD!!!! My heart!!!! :D

Check out my “reaction-video” review!!

P.S. Check out my “reaction-video” review.

Sadie: Love it girl!! Hottest hand holding EVER!!! The last line

Maryse: RIGHT????!!! Yes. The hand holding was as great as a first kiss… *sigh*

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

Maryse: And that last line… I re-read it twice, and when I clued in I was beaming! LOL!

4.5 stars!! MUST READ THIS!!!! :D

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Fabi June 14, 2015 at 9:04 PM

Awww I love your video.

Maryse June 14, 2015 at 9:19 PM

LOL!!!!

It’s so goofy. But hey… I needed to express myself. ;)

I hate Richie. Did I get that across? :P

bev June 14, 2015 at 9:40 PM

Great review, Maryse.
The beauty of her and Park against the ugliness of her life just hurt.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but I love that they read together before even speaking. And then when he runs over to share his new book, swoon.
How they saw each other? Wonderful.
Oh, but those kids at the back of the bus. Did kind of touch me though how Park saw his relationship with Steve (?) vs. how Steve saw it. ( not sure remembering his name right)
Park’s mom when she told him something like he couldn’t be trusted with his face, lol.
I ended up reading Attachments right after. Just had really loved her writing style and couldn’t move on. Have Landline waiting for me, though it has me a little nervous with the set up.

Amy June 14, 2015 at 10:16 PM

Your videos…OMG I’m cracking up. Reading everyone’s reactions to books is entertaining as it is, but actually being able to SEE the reactions? That just adds a whole new level of fun to it.

By the way – and you *know* I have to comment on this – your eye makeup looks fabulous!!!!

MichelleS June 14, 2015 at 10:21 PM

It’s my very next read!!! Right now I needed a fantasy fix since nothing else was doing it for me… Michelle…. you MUST READ Serpent of Time Book 2. It’s even better than the first. It’s sooooo long, but it is so good. Did you read it? Yu gave me the heads up that it had gone on sale a while ago. Yu were so right about the elf. I’m in my element here.

Maryse June 14, 2015 at 10:22 PM

Amy!!!!! My eye makeup!!

It’s that ummm… kit. Ummm… I told you about it once and THANK YOU. Now I gotta think… (I could just get up and go look but I’m in bed). LOL!

MichelleS June 14, 2015 at 10:25 PM

So after that video how is anyone supposed to NOT go right to the last line in the book? huh? what a tease!!!

Maryse June 14, 2015 at 10:26 PM

“Two Faced” Boudoir Eyes

Okay my base is the Bare Minerals 5 in 1 cream shadow/primer in Barely Nude.

And then I used “Garter belt” in the crease and in the corner, and lined my top lids in “French Tickler” (wet the brush and everything)

And Yves St Laurent “Effets Faux Cils” mascara, and then the Sephora liquid liner (waterproof) in an electric blue under my bottom lashes…

I’m gettin’ better at the blending!! :D

Maryse June 14, 2015 at 10:26 PM

DO NOT GO TO THE LAST LINE!!!!

Although… you probably won’t “get it” as it is referred to throughout the novel. ;)

Maryse June 14, 2015 at 11:00 PM

Thank you bev!!

I KNOW! That whole Steve thing threw me for a loop but I loved it.

Marit June 14, 2015 at 11:40 PM

I’m 50 percent into Meet me in the Dark by J.A Huss!!! This is for all of you who are into monsters that kidnap/abduct. This book is sooooo twisted and scary:) But do I love it? YES;)

Amy June 14, 2015 at 11:53 PM

That palette is beautiful! I swear, those names still crack me up. Come on, French Tickler? *giggles* Yes, that is my inner junior high schooler coming out. And yay for the blending! Knew ya would get the hang of it. ;)

Oh! I picked up some of that Bare Minerals nude shadow/primer after you rec’d it before and wow! Still love my UD Primer Potion, but that is up there with it as far as primers go.

Amy June 14, 2015 at 11:56 PM

Okay, about last lines. I LOVE last lines that give an *oomph* right before you close the book, no matter what kind of *oomph* it is…buoyant, heartbreaking, haunting, doesn’t matter. Does anyone remember the last line of Forever, Interrupted? I think I *physically* felt that line. Chest. Punch.

*snort* Marit, you are SO in the right place with that way of thinking. ;)

bev June 15, 2015 at 2:25 AM

Jean, if you come through, I know remember you reading it. Lol. Cause remember super excited, and oh past lunch time I can start asking her about it.
Huh. Now I’m debating in my head who the super picky ones are. Cause want their recs.

bev June 15, 2015 at 2:28 AM

I swear I know(<—see that?)the difference between know and now. *grrr*

Marit June 15, 2015 at 5:06 AM

That’s very comforting to hear, Bev!!!;)

Diane M June 15, 2015 at 7:49 AM

Great review Maryse!! I think I’m going to binge read her soon, looks like Fangirl has a sequel coming out in October. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved this book & author!

Maryse June 15, 2015 at 8:08 AM

My pleasure Diane! Now I have to check out her other books. :D

Diane M June 15, 2015 at 8:14 AM

You still want to read Signal bend? I started and I’m into it (was slow in the beginning but it’s really picked up)

Jean June 15, 2015 at 8:54 AM

Great review Maryse and loved your reaction video!

Thanks to bev for convincing me to read this one. I will never forget it! And I read that last line like four times with a silly grin on my face!

Jean June 15, 2015 at 8:55 AM

Oh and I’m still reading Fallen Crest series from the peanut list and swooning over Mason!!

Amy June 15, 2015 at 11:20 AM

Jean, Mason just gets better and better as the series goes on if you can believe it. ;) I’m at 89% of Becoming Calder, and I’m freaking out over what’s going to happen…especially after the prologue! :?

I would throw another peanut at Maryse about FCH, but she earned herself a reprieve after reading E&P. ;)

Jean June 15, 2015 at 11:43 AM

Ugh I can’t read much today and I’m dying to get back to him!

But headed out on a boat now for some day drinking…..better than working!!! Rum Runners here I come!

Maryse June 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM

I do, Diane!!!

I hear each book gets better and better. Are you far ahead in #1 or past it?

bev June 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Jean, wear floaties!

Fabi June 15, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Jean, I’m so jealous. I’d love to be on the lake today. It’s the perfect day for it.

Lol Bev.

Tessa June 15, 2015 at 12:51 PM

I went to get the book from the library and all but one was checked out that day. Last week, all the copies were available. I think you have readers here who knew they had it grabbed it before I could! Bev’s recommendation made me want to read it, but that reaction, I really want to read it!

Jean! *squee* See why Mason’s my book husband? Have fun on the lake.

Diane M June 15, 2015 at 1:27 PM

Nope, just passed 28% and that’s when I really started feeling it.

I have the entire Fallen crest series, I got stuck on .5 Mason, should I have stated with 1?? I’m definitely gonna give it another try…

Fabi June 15, 2015 at 1:36 PM

Oh good Diane, I have that question too. Whether I should start with .5 or with 1.

Jean June 15, 2015 at 1:58 PM

I started with .5 because I had downloaded the series as a bundle and that was first. I was wondering the same thing though because I noticed it came out after the first book.

Tessa June 15, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Start with one. .5 should really be read after three. It really should be 3.5. :-\

Jean June 15, 2015 at 3:05 PM

Damn already read .5 before 1!

Tessa June 15, 2015 at 3:07 PM

*shrugs* It’s still good. But when you get to three, you’ll see why it should be 3.5. *grins* No spoilers were in Mason.

Jean June 15, 2015 at 3:52 PM

I am freaking out Tessa!!! Can’t wait to get back to it tonight!!

Tessa June 15, 2015 at 5:14 PM

*grins* You’re on a lake! You’ll be fine. Mason can wait.

Just checked and GAH. The library just got E and P back in!

Fabi June 15, 2015 at 5:52 PM

Thanks for the info Tessa. I think FCH had to be next for me. It’s sat on my hot list for way too long.

Amy June 15, 2015 at 6:35 PM

LOL Bev!!! Yeeeeaaahhhh…I definitely second the floaties with the rum runners!! *snicker* Let’s hope you don’t get those after you drink ‘em though, Jean. :P

I would also say Mason shouldn’t be read first, but that’s because I like the whole not knowing and learning things layer by layer, ya know?

Amy June 15, 2015 at 6:38 PM

Gah, Diane!!! Don’t give up on FCH!! Start with book 1 and fall for Tessa’s book husband Mason…and Sam (MC) and Logan for that matter!

Jean…since you’ve loved UTEOTW and FCH so far, think you’ll trust me enough to read the Holy Trinity series soon? Next maybe?? The last book isn’t out but you can pine with the rest of us while we wait!! ;)

Diane M June 16, 2015 at 8:44 AM

I won’t Amy lol!!!

Michelle June 16, 2015 at 7:23 PM

Oh MichelleS you are tempting me to read Sorrow’s Peak next – can’t believe I got both books for free and that the first was one of my top fantasy reads last year! I don’t know who I’m rooting for but I love the mix of paranormal creatures and the thought-out storyline.

Ok back on topic, E&P is one of my favorites this year and credit due to Bev for gushing so much over it that I caved and read it ;) I really need to read another of her books. Fantastic review Maryse and the videos were adorable!

MichelleS June 17, 2015 at 2:28 PM

Michelle – I don’t know who I am rooting for either. Wait until you read Sorrow’s Peak and hear all of Bren’s inner thoughts and turmoil. Breaking my heart!!! It’s so good. Great recommendation on your part. So well written. My vacay is getting in the way. Making such slow progress. E&P is up next, if I ever get to read!!

Michelle June 17, 2015 at 5:19 PM

MichelleS, I really want to read it but work has slowed down so I got back to Firelight and I may read the whole Darkest London series in a row! It’s so so good…1880s London, deformed tortured hero, heroine with secrets and a paranormal aspect to boot…it’s so up your alley (and I know Bev would like it too) that I basically guarantee you will love it! Yes guarantee, ok back to reading since I can’t put it down to even make dinner!

MichelleS June 18, 2015 at 2:35 AM

You’re killing me, Michelle. I just looked up the Darkest London series and it sounds sooooo good. Again, how did I miss all these great reads? This one goes way back too. And it is not bargain priced. Boo. Will add it to my list though. I love a disfigured, tragic hero type, then add 1800′s London, an arranged marriage, some paranormal or magic elements? perfect!

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