Image Map

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Quick confession:  I’m old y’all. Maybe too old to be reading YA, but really, I don’t care.  The reason I made this confession is that while reading Eleanor & Park I completely related.  Now, I’m not as old as Eleanor or Park would be now, in 2013, and I wasn’t in high school when this story takes place, but I remember so many references made in this book. 

The cool girl with the Swatch, who was mentioned in the book?  Absolutely.  My Swatch had a blue band, a pink face with baby blue polka dots.  Even more impressive, was my older brother’s best friend who had 3 Swatches!  He wore them all at the same time, set to different time zones.  He was super cool.  He and my brother used to listen to all this awesome music that I learned to love: The Cure, Social Distortion, New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, The Smithereens, and so many others. Waterbeds were so cool, and I wanted one so badly, and while my telephone wasn’t a Ferrari, it was a pair of lips.  

     My Swatch  (Pink Flamingo)            My Phone
           (via                        (via 

All this background goes into giving you an idea of how much this book took me back to those years. I listened to the audio version, and a few chapters into it I had to stop.  I immediately made my husband listen to it too and catch up to where I was in the audio.  He’s older than me, and while still younger than Eleanor and Park, he can also completely relate to the story. 

So besides the reminiscing and giggles that came with all the 80’s references, the story was absolutely fantastic.  The main characters, Eleanor and Park were so well developed.  I really felt like I was an observer in their lives and felt an almost friendship with them.  I was rooting for them the entire time. Their romance and the build up to it, was so perfectly paced.  The anticipation of them falling in love was so real.  But it wasn’t just the main characters that were superbly developed.  I had a genuine hatred for Eleanor’s step-father, and Park’s mother may have been my favorite character of all. It’s actually a tough decision between her and Park.  Park is so sweet, so kind, so caring, but so open, that on paper he would be unbelievable, but was so well written, he seemed real. The actor, who read his part, was fantastic. 

While Eleanor could be a little annoying at times with her complete lack of self-confidence, she was also totally believable. I couldn’t relate to her or her background, but I felt for her all the same, and I liked her. The actress who read her part, gave her an almost Napoleon Dynamite feel.  Particularly, with one of Eleanor’s favorite expressions: God!

The pacing was just excellent; I don’t think there was a single slow part. I was absolutely riveted to the story and had to often tear myself away when real life intruded.  When it was over I was so sad.  I wanted more.  That’s not to say it ended badly, it just means I wasn’t ready to let the story go.  I finished it over a week ago, and I just can’t get it out of my head. 

The bottom line is:  I just can’t recommend this book enough.  It’s been my favorite read so far this year.  I really think this book can appeal to anyone ages 15-50.  Older readers will love the 80’s reminders, and younger readers will fall in love with both the story and the characters.  This is contemporary fiction at its best.  Go out, get a copy, and read this book.

5 out of 5 footballs


  1. The 80's are my favorite decade! I was born in the late 80's but the music and fashion from that time it's my favorite, just for that I want to read the book.
    The characters sound amazing!
    I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    Great review

  2. I'm so glad to see you loved this one! I just bought it and have heard nothing but positive things so far. Can't wait to read it! Thanks for the review :)

  3. this is on hold for me at the library... super excited to read it! and you're never too old for YA books :)

  4. I have been hearing such wonderful things about this book so I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy. I really want to read this book. Thanks for your honest review.

  5. I've heard a lot of good stuff about this book, and I still have my Swatch watch somewhere, although I want a new one! Great review!

  6. Huh, I'll have to give this book a look! The time period seems interesting!

  7. Oh god, I keep hearing great things about this book!!!! Still pissed at myself for missing her book signing last week! I'm really want "Fangirl"

  8. I definitely need to read this book!