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July 14, 2013

Eleanor & Park




Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Teen Fiction
2013 St. Martin’s Griffin
Finished on 6/23/13
Rating: 4.75/5 (Outstanding!)




Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” ~ John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

From the author’s website:

“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, Eleanor & Park 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.

Yep. I remember mine. (Who doesn’t remember their first love? Even after 36 years?) His name was Kevin and he had blond hair, blue eyes and drove a Chevy El Camino. We met at the end of my freshman year (he was a junior) at a mutual friend’s baseball practice. From that day on, we spent the rest of the summer together, hanging out at the beach, going to the races (Del Mar, Where the Turf Meets the Surf!), wandering around the Del Mar Fair, hanging out at his house, watching endless hours of MLB (we preferred the Dodgers over the Padres) or listening to Boston, Styxx, Foreigner, Little River Band and Bob Seeger on vinyl albums, played on his Pioneer stereo system (which, of course, had HUGE speakers). Later that year, we saw The Doobie Brothers and Pablo Cruise in concert, went with his parents and brother to the Pasadena Rose Bowl (Huskies vs Wolverines) and danced the night away at the Christmas formal. I cheered him on at our football games (he was a wide receiver) and sunbathed on the beach while he surfed with his buddies. For Christmas, he gave me a beautiful roll-top cedar chest, which he made in woodshop. I no longer have that lovely gift, but thanks to Rainbow Rowell’s novel, I was instantly transported back to the summer of ’77 and my first high school romance. 



Teen fiction isn’t a genre I typically read, but there have been some winners over the years (The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, Twilight, and The 5th Wave, to name just a few.), so when I started hearing all the buzz about Rowell’s teen debut, I decided to give it a try. I was immediately drawn into this gem of a book and quickly came to care about Eleanor and Park. This is not your typical teenage angst-ridden story and the authentic dialogue made me laugh out loud one minute and tugged at my heartstrings the next. Although I graduated from high school in 1980, I still enjoyed all the 80’s references and was eager to listen to the music mentioned in the narrative. Click here to listen to Eleanor & Park’s playlists.

I was sorry to miss out on the author’s visit and book signing at work, but I hadn’t finished the novel and was worried someone might reveal a spoiler. I only had a few chapters remaining and was completely invested in the story. The last thing I wanted was to hear a fan to blurt out the ending before I had a chance to read it for myself.

Final Thoughts: This is going on my list for a re-read! I’ve heard the audio version is very good too, so I’ll probably go that route. I also want to read Attachments, which is general fiction (as opposed to teen fiction) written in e-epistolary format. As with Eleanor & Park, it’s received glowing reviews.


From Publisher’s Weekly:

Half-Korean sophomore Park Sheridan is getting through high school by lying low, listening to the Smiths (it’s 1986), reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen comics, never raising his hand in class, and avoiding the kids he grew up with. Then new girl Eleanor gets on the bus. Tall, with bright red hair and a dress code all her own, she’s an instant target. Too nice not to let her sit next to him, Park is alternately resentful and guilty for not being kinder to her. When he realizes she’s reading his comics over his shoulder, a silent friendship is born. And slowly, tantalizingly, something more. Adult author Rowell (Attachments), making her YA debut, has a gift for showing what Eleanor and Park, who tell the story in alternating segments, like and admire about each other. Their love is believable and thrilling, but it isn’t simple: Eleanor’s family is broke, and her stepfather abuses her mother. When the situation turns dangerous, Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution—imperfect but believable—maintains the novel’s delicate balance of light and dark. Ages 13–up.

About the author:

Rainbow earned a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995 and at, 24, became the youngest-ever – and first female – columnist at the Omaha World-Herald. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of Attachments.

34 comments:

  1. That sounds very good...and now that I've read about and listened to some of the playlist, I think an audio version which includes the songs played throughout would be the ideal, but I don't suppose that is what you'd get. I can see myself switching back and forth between media to do combine them. LOL

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    1. I'm not sure if the playlists are included on the audio version, but I agree. That would be perfect! Hope you enjoy the book. Now I'm reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Another teen novel that has me longing for more free time to read!

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  2. Yay! I love this book with all my heart, so I'm ecstatic to hear you loved it too! All her books are little gems.

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    1. I loved it! The only reason I didn't give it a perfect 5/5 is because I thought the stepfather issues were a bit stereotyped. And, I had to suspend disbelief at the end when one of the mean girls turned out to be helpful. I can't wait to read Attachments and her upcoming release.

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  3. I loved this book and loved reading about your first romance. My husband took me to see Pablo Cruise when we were in college.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. It was fun taking a trip down memory lane. I could've written more, but I felt I should get back to discussing the book. ;) Off to iTunes to see if they have any of Pablo Cruise's music!

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  4. Definitely going on my list!

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    1. Without a doubt, I know you will love it.

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  5. Yay, so glad you loved Eleanor & Park. It is such a great story isn't it. Thank you for sharing the link of their playlist. I'll have to check that out!

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    1. It's a wonderful story! I loved the ending, too. Enjoy the playlist. I can't believe I don't know The Smith's music!

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  6. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Attachments, and I will certainly look for this one. Love the excerpt!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad to know that Attachments is also a winner. I'm going to snag a copy of it today at work!! I'm on a bit of a teen binge right now. Currently reading The Fault in Our Stars (John Green), which I'm lovin'!!!

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  7. I've had Attachments awaiting me for quite some time now. Loved E&P so much that I need to pull this one down soon. Glad you loved it, too!

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    1. In spite of my toppling stacks, I think may have to get a copy of Attachments and read it as soon as I finish The Fault In Our Stars. This is gonna be the summer of teen reads!

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  8. You got to see Pablo Cruise? I loved those songs... and I loved reading this post!!

    My YA reading is usually limited to 1 or 2 titles a year. One will be The Fault in Our Stars (which has been loaded on my iPod for months) and this will be the second.

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    1. Yessiree! I still remember their music even though I don't own any of their albums/cds. Time to buy some from iTunes!

      Glad you enjoyed the post. I wasn't sure how much to include about my first "true love."

      You've got to read The Fault In Our Stars! I'm about halfway in and I'm LOVING it! So, so, so good!!

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  9. Oh yea! I'm so glad you enjoyed this. And Attachments is absolutely hilarious. I need to re-read it, actually.

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad to hear that Attachments is just as good. And funny? I'm in! Once I finish The Fault in Our Stars, I think I may need something hilarious. Thanks for the heads-up. Here's to a summer of teen fiction!

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  10. I love that picture you included! I'm not quite sure that I have enough distance, yet, between now and my high school romance. ;)

    So glad to hear you loved this one. After seeing yours and Joy's recommendation, I think I can safely put it on my list and I'll be looking forward to it. I'm not sure if I've heard about Attachments or not. Surely so...?

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    1. Awww, thanks. I look so damn young! I wasn't even 16 yet. Gotta love that eyelet dress and his "suit." Those dance photos always look so silly. So Scott wasn't your high school sweetheart? ;)

      Yes, you must put this book on your list. And from what I'm hearing, Attachments is also very good. Once I finish The Fault in Our Stars, I'm moving on to that one.

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  11. Love this book! Loved loved loved. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, too. I can't wait to read more from Rainbow Rowell. I found the characters and the writing so smart and authentic.

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    1. Me, too!!! I think it was your enthusiasm that steered me to it. So thankyouverymuch, Miss Andi!! I can't wait to read Attachments and Landline. Hopefully, Ms. Rowell will return for another signing and I will be prepared to attend. Sigh. What a disappointment to have missed that event! I should've stayed up all night reading...

      Yes, smart & authentic is exactly how I felt about the writing. I'm feeling the same vibe with John Green's writing, too.

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  12. That's it! I've been hearing such great things about this one and now I'm convinced it's going to be on my Nook sooner rather than later. Nothing like a book that will take you back to your own past!

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    1. It's set in Omaha, so you may enjoy it even more than I did!

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  13. I can't say that I'm terribly interested in the book, but I read your personal story with fervor...wanting to know even more about you and Kevin. We're the same age, basically, we listened to the same music on the same vinyl, and probably dressed the same for our school dances. The 70's were great times, and I miss them along with my first love. His name is Sean, and we went off to separate colleges as friends, but I'll always love him for what he gave me: acceptance in the world of chaos which was my high school. xo

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    1. I was going to write more, but decided not to digress any further. ;) I'll bet you and I would've been great pals in high school. Not my favorite time of life, but not as bad as for some. I was never bullied and had quite a few friends, but always felt like I was a 5th wheel to most of the groups. If I could go back now, knowing what I know about myself today, I would've been much happier!

      I wonder if Kevin and Sean remember us after all these years.

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  14. Wait! I have an unread copy of Attachments. Would you like that book since Beth Hoffman didn't work so well for you? I'm not a big fan of YA, couldn't even finish The Fault in Our Stars. I know, the one person on God's green earth who wasn't moved...

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    1. Yes, please!!! I'd love a copy of Attachments, read or unread. Sorry you didn't finish The Fault in Our Stars. I loved it. At one point, I was unable to stop my sobs.

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  15. I do want to read this.
    My gosh, you and Kevin look like an ad for the California lifestyle. Is everyone blond(e) there. :<))))
    We had a Pioneer system, and boy was it great. When we first bought it, the whole idea was so rare, so uncommon that we had to walk to the outskirts of Boston to a little store to find it. Amazing.
    I don't think I told you that we got a new turntable and hooked it up to the Bose, and can now happily listen to all those zillions of old records. I even bought the newest Bonnie Raitt on vinyl!

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    1. I think you'll enjoy it, Nan. It's well-written and entertaining!

      Ha! No, not everyone is blonde, but the salt water/air does help. :)

      I'll bet you had one of those felt cleaners to clean the dust off your records, too, didn't you? I'll have to check out the new BR album. She's one of our favorites!

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  16. What a bummer that you weren't able to make Rainbow's event! I really enjoyed this book as well. It actually kind of surprised me that I liked it so much. I'm not that much of a fan of John Green's books, but I'm glad you're loving your current read. :)

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    1. I'm on quite the teen fiction kick this year. I'm ready to read the rest of John Green's backlist, as I loved The Fault in Our Stars.

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  17. I just remembered . . . I wanted to add to your list of teen reads this summer. If you haven't read Between Shades of Gray (Sepetys), you must do so! :) Also, The Chosen One (Williams), Hitler Youth (Bartoletti) - NF, Sold (McCormick), Living Dead Girl (Scott), etc. :)

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    1. Thanks for all of these recommendations. I have Between Shades of Gray and will work it in to my stacks later this summer. Adding the others to my TBR list. Thanks, Joy!

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