Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

“Eleanor and Park” is the first young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell. She’s written a number of critically acclaimed novels for both young and no-longer-so-young adults. This means she may be worth having a look at, if you care what the critics and people like me think, that is.

What’s It About?

Eleanor and Park are misfits, which is a beloved element of YA love novels. They’re 16 and not exactly popular. She’s a big girl and a redhead. He’s half-Korean. They meet on a bus after Eleanor moves and starts attending Park’s school. With time and somewhat reluctantly they discover that they like each other quite a bit.

The book focuses on the theme of fitting in and what to do when you hear the “You can’t sit with us!” line. Teenage sexuality is quite a prominent topic. It’s presented in quite a tasteful way, which I think is really cool (because like or don’t but teenagers have THESE needs). There’s also a number of topics that’s only touched upon such as racism, domestic abuse or body positivity.

Why Should You Read It?

You should read it because it’s an engaging book. The narration is split between Park and Eleanor which gives you a nice perspective into what both of them think. If you ever wondered what the other side was thinking but not saying this book will give you a good idea.

Especially, if you’re a no-longer-so-young adult this book will take you back in time and remind you of your first boyfriends and crushes. That’s quite a skill!

What’s Wrong With It?

Apart from being sketchy on some important issues such as racism or domestic abuse, the plot is not very realistic. Some humans are horrible and there’s no escape. Brief, too much sugar!
Unfortunately, it’s also one of many novels that create unrealistic expectations of first relationships for young people. I would really like to see one that shows how ephemeral first fascinations are and that there’s a difference between lust and love.

Overall Verdict

It’s a really sweet novel and a page turner. You will read it with the speed of light and regret that there’s nothing more left for you to read about the two. You may shed a tear or two and even bite your nails with anxiety when reading some parts of it.

If you’re on a lookout for something deeper and meaningful about teenagers, racial relations or domestic abuse this isn’t the right book to read. This novel is light and entertaining which can be good or bad, depending how you look at it.

Have you read this book, Dear Rinser? Maybe you’ve read something else by Rainbow Rowell? Let me know in the comments’ section!

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