Mundie Moms

Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Written by: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffith
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Source: Purchased
Purchase: amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound
Goodreads: Eleanor and Park

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars-- I adored this story SO much!

Synopsis: Bono met his wife in high school, Park says. 
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers. 
I’m not kidding, he says. 
You should be, she says, we’re 16. 
What about Romeo and Juliet? 
Shallow, confused, then dead. 
I love you, Park says. 
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers. 
I’m not kidding, he says. 
You should be. 

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under. 

Every year since I began reviewing, there seems to be a story that surprises me. It's usually a quietly launched story without a lot of over-hyped buzz, but it picks up steam as it passes from reviewer to reviewer and friend to friend. It's the story that your good, bookworm friends will text you about and insist you need to read it next. It's the story that once you do read, you understand immediately why your friends encouraged you to read it and so in turn, you pass it along to someone who hasn't read it, yet. Eleanor and Park is just such a story.

First, I remember 1986 a little too well, and I remember the music a little too well. I also remember the biases of small towns towards anyone who didn't fit the norm. I use this phrase entirely too much, so here it goes again -- lovely, layered characters. That's exactly what Rainbow brings us. It's not just Eleanor and Park who I feel I know so well that when I climb onto a school bus (for my kids' field trips), I expect to see them in the back. It's also the parents, especially Park's, that rang so true. His mom could be my mom if you swap out her Korean upbringing for a Serbian one. Rainbow delivers glimpses of their back-stories in a few short sentences that left me shattered at what the mom, in particular, must have experienced. I won't even discuss Park's dad, because in Rainbow's capable hands he's THAT guy; oh trust me, you'll know it when you read it. He's the guy that is so consistent; I simply fell in love with both his parents. And in them, I saw hope for what Eleanor and Park could become.

But wait, you say, Sophie this book is not called Park's parents. Okay, it's not. I'm trying to not spoil things because Eleanor lives a tough life. An awful life. In the midst of what should be hopeless despair, she finds pockets of sanity for herself, and she finds Park. Watching her allow Park into her life made this story, for me, one of the most satisfying reads this year. I won't even talk about the ending because it contained words that broke my heart, yes, in a good way.

When you're in the mood for a realistic story featuring characters who will stay with you long after you finished the last page, pick up Eleanor and Park. I promise that you will then turn into one of those people I mentioned above. The one who insists that their friends should drop everything and read this book next.


  1. This sounds amazing, and I honestly don't think you can overuse the term "lovely, layered characters." They occur too infrequently so it's delicious to get a heads up that they appear in a book. Thanks!!!!

    1. Martina - A story well worth reading! And lol! Thanks for supporting my lack o' imaginative wording skills! ;)

  2. I'm reading Eleanor and Park right now! It's brilliant. One of those books that keeps calling to me after I (reluctantly) put it down. I hope to have time later today to read the rest all the way through.

    1. Clara - It's a book you will finish in a sitting or two. Glad you're enjoying it!