Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

HEY UNICORNS! Missed me much? *no?Okay..* I’m sorry I’ve been inactive here lately (5 days, to be accurate) but I was getting some good chunks of reading done. So… I’ll be catching up with your posts soon! But this post is not about that. It’s a review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. (Also, the poetry post which I shared here was actually pre-planned, so I just had to click the ‘publish’ button.)


M Y  R A T I N G: 2.75/5 STARS

Eleanor and Park was a cute fluffy read. But, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Seriously. You guys. Don’t beat me into a pulp or something okay? I had a couple of issues with this book and sadly, they outweigh the positive points. This is probably going to be a rant, so I suggest you to go get thick scarves to cover your ears because there’s going to be a lot of shouting (deliberate ones) and vehement arguing. And I don’t want you to become deaf. *you’re just reading this post. Relax. Nothing is going to happen. I was just kidding.* So, with that happy note, let’s begin. 

WHAT I LIKED-

  • This book was short. And easy to read. AND THAT IS SOMETHING I LIKED: Rainbow Rowell’s decision to keep this book crisp and short. AND THAT HELPED ME BINGE THIS BOOK IN A DAY. AND IT TACKLED SERIOUS ISSUES LIKE BULLYING, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ETC. 
  • REALISTIC CHARACTERS. *Rowell’s characters are all real and it just makes the story better* Although, at times, they went kind of weird, it still was fun to read about them. 

WHAT I DISLIKED-

HANG ON, OKAY? I HAVE A LOT TO TALK ABOUT IN THIS SECTION. 

(Warning: SPOILERS)

  • EVERYTHING HAPPENS SO QUICKLY.

The first two chapters are all filled with how Eleanor calls Park a ‘stupid Asian kid’ in her mind and how Park feels that Eleanor is ‘weird’. Of course, they don’t say it aloud, but it is clear. (Because, ha. They just don’t. But they do make it clear by leaving a 6-inch gap between them on the seat) AND THEN PARK SHARES HIS MIX TAPES AND COMICS WITH ELEANOR. *HE. DOESN’T. UTTER. A. WORD* And then they start discussing their favourite songs and start reading comics together and awww now the only person Eleanor can think about is Park and Park can’t stop thinking about her either. *did you catch that note of sarcasm?* 

  • The cheese. 

WHAT IS THE CHEESE, YOU ASK? There were lines that would never be heard spoken in this book. Of course, the characters were relatable but man. MAN. JUST TELL HER THAT YOU LOVE HER. 

Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive. 

  • Stereotypical representation of Korean Culture/RACISM. THERE’S THIS PART WHERE HE LITERALLY SAYS THAT ASIAN MEN ARE NOT HOT. PLUS, ELEANOR ONLY GOT TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘ORIENTAL’ AND ‘ASIAN THROUGH A CHINESE FRIEND OF HERS. *turns out, oriental is for food*

Ooh and why does Park want to look like a white person? He feels that he’s not handsome and is not happy with his height. (Read: he says that the female side of his family was always petite and he takes after his mom. PARK. PLEASE.)

Park’s mom is an adorable character. But, DUDE. JUST WHY DO YOU THINK THAT DESCRIBING HER AS A CHINA DOLL WOULD BE NICE? 

THERE WERE MANY INSTANCES. MANY. MANY. Read these discussion posts:

Ello’s opinion. 

Also, this. 

YEAH. READ EM. You’ll understand why I was screaming in caps. 

  • THE ENDING. 

What even was that? It’s like, ‘Pick any one that you like’ WHAT WERE THOSE THREE WORDS? AH. AH. AH. 

  • FELL SHORT IN THE MIDDLE. 

*a part of my goodreads review*

‘Eleanor & Park’ was a book I had high expectations for and it just let me down. I don’t know. It handled some very sensitive issues with great care and that’s something I liked about this book. The characters were relatable, but the romance just bloomed very quickly for my liking. It is a cute read but it is not that kind of story that lingers, if you know what I’m saying. Plus all of that stereotypical rep. And why can’t we have diverse characters? The school which Eleanor and Park attend seems to be completely white. Asians and Blacks are in the minority. Pfft. I dunno about you guys, but I loved ‘Landline’ by Rainbow Rowell so much more than any of her books because it had a diverse array of characters. And I loved ‘Carry On’ for featuring a gay couple. I wanted this book to be different. But, sadly, it wasn’t. 

HOPE Y’ALL LIKED THE REVIEW! PLEASE DO COME BACK FOR MORE! 

-Anj xx

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27 thoughts on “Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. I totally agree with everything you said!!! Initially I gave this book 5 stars after reading it because I literally binge-read it in a day, I loved Rainbow’s writing and the general flow of the story and the topics that were addressed!

    However, I didn’t really think about/notice the offensive and problematic things at first – then I saw plenty of reviews on why the book is racist and stereotypical and I could clearly see all the issues this book has.

    And after thinking about it for a bit, I also felt like the romance between Eleanor & Park was a little insta-lovey soooo this book very quickly turned into a 3 star read for me! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    GREAT review and I’m glad you addressed the issues because I feel like a lot of people might not realise it at first (like me ๐Ÿ™ˆ) so this is very helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I BINGE-READ IT TOO!! That makes two of us lol. I took some time to discern my thoughts about this book because I liked this book but all the underlying issues it had, just made me feel upset . You see, I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK. Rainbow Rowell brilliantly potrayed diversity in Landline and I was hoping for the same with this book too. I KNOW MY THOUGHTS WERE ALL MUDDLED IN THIS REVIEW, BUT I’M REALLY HAPPY THAT YOU LIKED READING THIS REVIEW, JACKIE!โ™กโ™ก

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this book years ago and really loved it, but I feel as though I wouldn’t like it as much if I read it again now. You bring up a lot of good points in this review, especially about the inclusion of stereotypical representation. Great review! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Opinions do change, I agree. I actually feel that giving some time and pondering about a book after you read it, really helps you to gather all of your thoughts and then you get a perfect review. That’s maybe the reason why I post reviews after a day or two of thinking about it and summarising my thoughts. But still, my reviews are damn imperfect lol ๐Ÿ˜‚ THANK YOU SO MUCH, HOLLY!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the most insightful reviews I have seen for this title. I have been considering an intro to Rowell’s work lately. Not my normal reading, but I hear nonstop praise. However, I now know this is not a good starting point. I would probably share the same concerns. It sounds rushed and well, somewhat in poor form. I know I will need to eventually read it myself to make that decision, but for now I am passing. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really such a big compliment, thank you, Danielle! I started my journey into Rainbow Rowell’s books with Fangirl because everybody was just raving about it so much. I DIDN’T LOVE IT. JUST MEH. One book that I really adored was ‘Landline’. Rainbow Rowell did an amazing job writing that book. It’s her most underhyped book, but it’s the best, at least according to me. Let me know after you read any one of her books! โค

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think the teenagers saying racist things or Park internalizing what his peers think of him makes the book itself racist. Rather, I think it makes readers interrogate the things being said by the characters. Mike and his friends are not characters the readers are supposed to like or admire. Their inability to distinguish Chinese and Korean individuals is a sign that they are too absorbed with themselves even to have ever noticed or thought about Park. It’s also a very realistic portrayal of what a lot of white teens are likely to say–Rowell isn’t pretending that these teens have received diversity training and know how to be sensitive and respectful. Especially since the book is set in the 1980s when conversations about diversity were not what they are today.

    And it’s perhaps not surprising that Park, who is very aware that he is the only non-white-looking kid in his school, feels self-conscious about it when you can see through the conversation how his peers are responding to him. They’re maybe not trying to be rude and make him feel weird and different–but they are. Eleanor experiences the same thing because she, too, is different and doesn’t fit the mold of what a beautiful person is “supposed” to look like. Her feelings of insecurity don’t mean that Rowell is fat-shaming her, but rather that she is exploring what a teen in the 1980s might feel like if attending a school full of small-minded individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good take on all of the things that happen in this book. ‘Positive’, I can say. Thank you for reading this review and I really really appreciate your view of things, Krysta! This book has sparked a lot of conversations and people everywhere seem to interpret it in every possible way. I read it in a day, ‘binged’, if you want to be accurate and maybe that was the reason behind my interpretation of things. I’m going to be coming back to this book soon, once more, to re-read some parts of the book. BUT ACTUALLY, I LOVED THIS BOOK FOR ADDRESSING ISSUES LIKE BULLYING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. That was one of things I mentioned in the first section where I talked about the good things that this book had. Ratings do fluctuate over time, and I’m sure that a thorough examination of this book once again might lead to better conclusions and a clearer review. I’m still trying to improve my reviews by trying to make them crisp and coherent at the same time, so I just hope that I get that done soon. Your reviews are very well-structured and on point, by the way. Once more, I LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU READ MY REVIEW AND POINTED OUT SOME VERY VITAL THINGS. But yes, I’ll be doing some research on this topic and I’ll return back to it soon! โค

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      1. Oh, I thought your review was clear! I just wanted to add my take on the book. I listened to it on audiobook so it took me at least a month, I think! I don’t know if that changed my reading experience at all, though I do hear the narrator’s voice in my head when I think of the characters!

        Perhaps one helpful way to think of the book is that the characters do grow. So they might be feeling misplaced or unworthy of love at the start of the book, but Eleanor and Park’s relationship shows them that you can be “weird” or “different” but that doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. Eleanor perhaps needs more time to reach this place because of her experiences with her stepfather, but the end of the book holds out hope that she’s beginning to see that everything is not her fault and she does not need to isolate herself.

        I thought the book was very powerful, too, for addressing bullying, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. I think it’s important that the book shows some of the reasons women might feel pressured to stay in an abusive relationship even though outsiders don’t understand why they don’t just get out.

        You have a great blog, by the way!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh gosh I was the same as you about this!! I felt really letdown by this book. I actually read Carry On after this and was surprised by how much I loved it cos I just wasn’t feeling this book at all. You’re right about the romance- it felt like it was out of nowhere for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES OMG. Everyone seems to absolutely love this book and I can’t figure out why?? ๐Ÿค” I’m glad to know I’m not the only one though. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! โค

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Girl, those cheesy, unrealistic lines Eleanor and Park said to each other were just a big no for me ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป I didn’t find the characters to be that relatable because of that and you’re right, the romance hit off so fast it was a bit weird. I read Fangirl this month though and absolutely loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. the way they potray eleanors background is sort of disturbing but then isnt that the caus of conflict….i have read many romantic books from fault in our stars to all the bright blaces and i would give this one a 2.2/5……..everyone has different opinions…hope u read and reply ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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