Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Fall in love.
Damn the world.
Let go of your inhibitions.


This book! This bright big blob of a book!
Remember that first time you saw a boy not as a dirty, irritating piece of shit this mass of your favourite ice cream which you had to, just had to take a piece of ? The time when holding hands made you swoon and the mushy talks made you melt ? The first time you fell in “love” ? This book gives you that- brings back all the sweet, innocent and cheesy memories of that first time a boy made your heart jump and flip and go crazy in the tiny space of your chest !

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND 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.

The protagonists were so relatable. Reading about their insecurities, inhibitions and doubts was like reading a journal your fifteen year old self wrote. Despite being the victim of countless bullies at school and the daughter of some real shitty parents, never once did Eleanor made you think of a helpless girl looking out for prince charming to come to her rescue. She was smart, self- assured, brave, can stand her ground and the girl knows her comics well ! On the other hand, you have Park. He is such a typical teenager that his actions never really disappoint you. Because you relate to his inhibitions about helping the weird girl who is always bullied. These are teenagers to whom , as ridiculous as it may be, social status matters. Because it is after all high school which as we all know is no heaven.

Their story develops quite subtly amidst comics and books. The hand holding, kissing, making out- all of it is just so aptly done.

It also deals with child abuse, violence, neglect. Her dad is a -and I don’t have a politer word for it- a douchebag. And her mother? One of the worst mothers I’ve read so far. So obviously with such a setup there HAD to be a lot of angst and drama. The sneaking out of the house, the tiptoeing across halls, avoiding any place that’s not your room…it made you root for their love all the more. For the only upside of living with her mother and stepfather was being able to be close to Park.

The ending disappointed me though. It could have taken a better route. It felt unnecessarily poignant- Eleanor ignoring Park for an year.

Nevertheless, given the beautiful journey that was this story, I am willing to let go of the disappointing ending. And you Miss Rowell have got yourself another fan who is going to stalk every existing online profile for updates on your works. Word.

3-1/2 STARS