Reading: “Eleanor & Park”

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Our book club pick last month was “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. It was picked by the lovely Holli. Holli and I generally have the same taste in books, so I had high expectations. This book did not disappoint. I really enjoyed it.

The book is a teenage romance set in the 1980s. I will say that although the book is about teenagers, I probably would not let my daughter read this until she is sixteen. It does have some explicit language and phrases that might offend some. It did not offend me. I did not even notice the language until it was brought up at book club.

Eleanor and Park are both sixteen. Eleanor is a tall, voluptuous red-head who feels self conscience and does not fit in. Park is a half-Korean half-American boy who also feels set apart as the only Korean kid in his school. They meet on the school bus. And their slow friendship is so beautifully written, you will feel the moments that turn into sparks between them.

The book centers around their romance. And all that love can endure. I think maybe love might be even harder as a teenager.

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I had never heard of Rainbow Rowell before. But I enjoyed her writing so much I ordered her other book, “Fan Girl.” It is coming on Monday. Unlike the book I picked this month for book club (more on that soon), this author makes you really feel with the characters. It is what makes a good author a great one. Rainbow has that ability. She produces beautiful words.

As in any book, this book would be incredibly dull without some angst. Or some drama. And show me a teenager who does not have both of those situations occurring on a regular basis and I will lend you my pet unicorn for the day. Of course, Eleanor and Park have to endure all of that. I read it in two days. It is an easy worthwhile read. I would give the book a nine out of ten.

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The Good:

The characters. Eleanor and Park became living, breathing friends of mine. They made me cry. They made me angry. But the secondary characters were equally solidly built. Park’s parents, well, you are going to love them. Eleanor’s parents made me want to kick and scream. And the kids on the bus will bring back every teenage anxiety you have ever felt.

The writing was easy. I enjoy easy. Life is hard enough. I want to read a book smooth as pudding. With a glass of ice cold flow. The sweetness tickled the back of my throat as it went down.

The Bad:

The ending. It is kind of a cliff hanger. I do not know if it will make you angry. I think it was the perfect ending. I did not find it to be such a cliff hanger as others have felt it was. The author has also hinted that this might not be the last we see of Eleanor and Park.

Poverty. I sometimes forget in my little bubble how incredibly hard some children have it. And this leads me to feel immensely guilty and grateful all at once. There is a part in the book that centers around hygiene. And it broke my heart in two. I made myself put the book down for a good hour so my soul could give it the attention it deserved. And reflect on what I could do more of as a human being to help end moments like that for other children.

“Eleanor & Park” is a small book that will make you feel big things.

Have you read this book? What book/books are you reading this month?

16 thoughts on “Reading: “Eleanor & Park”

  1. I love Eleanor & Park! It was actually the third book of Rainbow Rowell’s I read. Fangirl was excellent, and I would also recommend Attachments. She has a new book coming out this year, and I can’t wait!

    I totally agree with your review. Park’s parents were awesome – especially his dad, which you don’t really expect at first.

    • Thanks for the recommendation! I had no idea she had a third book out. I will definitely search that out! And I did not know she was releasing a book this year. That is great news! : ). So excited!

      I hope your week is delightful!

      Jenni

  2. sounds really good, going to get this on my kindle and add it to the pile…..I love stories that ground us and remind us how fortunate we are (and our kids are)…thanks for the recommendation!

    • Thank you Melodee. Yes, it definitely was a grounding book. But so sweet, too. Just an easy light read. It did have some bad language, but that did not bother me. My friend said it was because the author wanted to show how Eleanor and Park were above all of that. It was like a more mature Judy Blume book.

      I hope you like it!

      Have a fantastic week!

      Jenni

  3. I read this recently. I loved it too. I really liked how sweetly their relationship was described. Also did not mind the cliffhanger ending although it is a bit abrupt.

    I read Attachments and also really liked it.

    I think you might also enjoy Thirteen Reasons by Jay Asher. It’s also about a teenage romance but has a very different spin on it.

    • Thank you Liana. I will definitely have to check “Thirteen Reasons” out. Thank you for the recommendation. I am always looking for books to read. Also, from looking at your book case, I know we read a lot of the same books. I am heading over to Amazon in a bit. : )

      I hope your week is grandM

      Jenni

  4. Oh, this sounds great. I will definitely check it out. Thank you so much for the review!
    I am reading A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle right now. I read this book every time I visit my mom. It’s a fun read.
    I just finished reading The Master And Margarita by Bulgakov. It was one of those books I put off for ages and then went nuts when I read it and am thinking about reading it again right away. I will definitely do a blog post on it since there is a famous talking cat in it.

    • Thank you Cynthia. Yes, please do reviews on both of those books. I have not read either of them. So, I want to learn more! Can you imagine what Marcy would think about you reading a dog book?! Ha! I can imagine! ; ).

      I hope your week is peaceful and Marcy is nice to you when you get home!

      Jenni

    • Thank you! I must check out those books, too. Thank you for the recommendations. I love adding books to my list. In fact, I looked them up on Amazon. I think I will buy both today. They look so good! Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore is right up my alley. So excited!

      Have a magical day!

      Jenni

    • Me, too! Thank you for commenting! I was upset with Eleanor at the end, but I understood. I really hope Mrs. Rowell writes more about them. I just got “Fan Girl” by her and so far I really like it!

      Have a creative week!

      Jenni

  5. Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t read this book, but your review makes me want to! It’s going on my list of things to get, even though you promised us a cliffhanger! 🙂

    • Thanks Gwen! It was so good! I just finished her other one, Fan Girl tonight. It was good, but not as good as Eleanor & Park. I have two more books coming tomorrow. And I need to finish “The Lies of Locke Lamora.” Have you read that one? Oh. And one day, I need to clean this house!

      Keep warm!

      Jenni

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