Book Review: Eleanor & Park

July 8, 2013

“You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”

The next time I say that I don’t like literary fiction remind me that it’s my favorite genre of young adult literature. REMIND ME. Because holy crap, I loved Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell so much. SO MUCH.

It gutted me. Gutted.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellHere’s what I loved about this book:

  • Eleanor
  • Park
  • Eleanor & Park
  • Park’s mom
  • Park’s dad
  • Park’s mom and dad
  • DeNice & Beebi
  • All of the relationships, basically
  • All of the character work, basically

What I’m saying is everything was A+. I believed all of the relationships. I loved the way everything was resolved. I mean, the way things ended with Tina, holy crap.

Rowell has this way, too, of giving a lot of information with small details. Like, Eleanor is poor, right? And it’s like, okay, so she has to share her room with all of her brothers and sisters. But you really understand just how poor she and her family are when she wishes she could save pads from a prank girls play on her because “what a waste.” Maxi pads touched by another person are a waste. Or how you understand that her mom’s boyfriend beats the mom and then forces her to have sex with him because she has a bruise and a hickey. Small details.

The sexual abuse is well-handled as are the hints that maybe it has happened before. Oh, and that Eleanor thought her father was terrible until she realized there are worse things than selfish. (That doesn’t mean her father is good or even decent, but just that he could be a lot worse.)

I was also quite impressed that even though Richie is a terrible, terrible, terrible person, Rowell still managed to make him a little sympathetic in the end. I mean, I hated him, verily, but still that sliver of humanity she gives him makes all the difference.

Oh! Another thing I liked is that my attachment to the characters grew as they grew more attached to each other.

Park’s parents are seriously the best. Flawed, yes, but excellent parents.

I also love that Park is embarrassed because they’re so affectionate, and you get the whole ugh annoying parents, but then there’s Eleanor not bringing people home because, again, worse than embarrassing.

I think, ultimately, that I liked this book so much because aside from the awesome characters and the fantastic relationships and all of the A++ writing, I completely bought Eleanor and Park’s growing attraction to each other. I liked that it didn’t quite make sense because these things don’t always makes sense, and I loved that the characters were aware of how much it didn’t make sense, but that it didn’t quite matter whether or not it made sense because they got each other.

Oh, and the last thing I absolutely loved is how Rowell would show how different characters saw the same situation: Eleanor’s gym suit, Park’s mom seeing Eleanor at the store, etc. Oh and good Lord, everything with Eleanor and her siblings broke my heart.

Also, I love how every time I think I’m done saying everything I love (and these are the non-spoilery bits!), I keep thinking of something else. I mean, Eleanor’s makeover! Park’s fight! So many things to talk about!

So what I’m saying is this book is awesome and you should read it. Easily my favorite read of the year so far.

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