Allison: Eleanor & Park | Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

A couple of weeks ago, I was checking out twitter, and I couldn’t help but notice how it was blowing up with another big book controversy and as per usual, I was quickly drawn into the conversation. This time the controversy involved the book Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I hadn’t read the book before nor had I read anything by the author but yet I still felt quick to defend. Why? Because when a book is challenged or threatened in any manner (especially in a manner that is entirely unreasonable) I feel the need to defend it. Books are that important to me. That is also the reason I knew I had to check out this story, and see exactly what the “big deal” was, and to see why so many people were apparently offended by it.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | Good Books & Good Wine

To say that Eleanor & Park has left me with feelings would be an understatement honestly. This book is so full of so many wonderful things. It really is one of those stories in the young adult world that is completely authentic with its portrayal of young teenagers. Eleanor and Park both felt so real to me. And I felt like I was falling in love with them as they were falling in love with each other. They were so different and yet they were so connected on a level that was inexplicably beautiful and heartfelt. I LOVED READING ABOUT IT.

I think one of the reasons that I loved reading about Eleanor and Park’s relationship is because it avoided most of the usual “falling in love” clichés that you sometimes come across in a young adult book. There were swoony moments but they were not necessarily directly in your face. Often times they were more simplistic and were things that sometimes people I think take for granted. Actions were subtly written in so that when I came across them I had to take a moment to pause and to really enjoy them. I was full of happy sighs, and smiles, and just moments of pure reading bliss when I was reading this book.  Even during their moments of tension, I was still enjoying reading about Eleanor and Park finding their way to each other.

I really liked how Eleanor & Park is not just a teenage love story. There are also other important issues sprinkled into the mix as well. Issues which are completely relatable to teenagers and non-teenagers alike. One thing that I really connected with personally was the things that Eleanor dealt with not only as the “new girl” but also as the “weird girl”. I never was the new girl in my school because I was in the same school district all of my life but I was most definitely seen as the weird girl at times. Be it because of what I wore, what I could afford to wear due to my family’s tight budget, who I chose to hang out with, or what I chose to enjoy doing I never fit in with the popular kids. Honestly, it was better that way because the people that I did hang out with I knew liked me for me. Also, I was horrible in gym class (like Eleanor) because I lack any coordination what-so-ever and because I was always a bigger girl. I wasn’t necessarily heavy but I’m naturally big boned which made athletics difficult for me. Thus, gym class was never a fun experience for me. In fact, usually it was a living hell and I hated it with a passion.

Being able to relate to a character is huge for me. I love when it happens and for me, it makes reading a book that much enjoyable. Yes, I love when I read a book and I fall for the characters but, when you are able to completely relate to them, it adds another dimension to the book. Or at least it does for me. THIS is one of the reasons why books are so important. Books have the ability to open eyes and hearts in a way that is sometimes almost unexplainable. There is so much truth in books especially for individuals who are trying to find themselves. Especially when a book is completely realistic and does not hide the truths of what it is like to be a teenager growing up in modern society. Books like this are not “obscene” or “foul” or anything like that. They are IMPORTANT.

Books like Eleanor & Park should not be taken away but instead they should be highly valued. These books are life preservers for some people. They can make them realize that they are not alone or wrong in the way that they are feeling. They can help them find solutions or give them the courage to talk to someone about their problems. Banning books is WRONG, and it makes my blood boil just thinking about it or attempting to type about it. Truthfully, I cannot thank Rainbow Rowell enough for this story. I’m so glad I read it, and I’m so glad I now understand the hype … for all the right reasons.

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Disclosure: Purchased for my Nook

Other reviews of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:

The Secret Life of a Bookworm: “Eleanor & Park was such a beautifully written novel.

Queen Ella Bee Reads: “So nerds, issues and kissing. Something for everyone. Which is why you have to read this one right now.

Into the Hall of Books: “This book is PERFECT.

April’s Review: “Y’all, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is one of those frantic heartbeat hand holding kinds of books.


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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. What a wonderful heartfelt review. This sounds delightful. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I had the same reaction–needing to jump up and defend this marvelous book. Love how you love books, Allison. <3

  3. There have been books I’ve read where I understand why they’re challenged because the “bad” language sticks out at me or whatever but in the case of E&P, I was just so blown away by the excellent characterizations and the power of Rowell’s prose that it remains baffling to me.

  4. So glad to see that you enjoyed this one, and that E&P is more than just a teenage love story. This one is next on my TBR list!

    Great review 🙂

  5. great review. i read this a few months ago and was really impressed…it’s a breath of fresh air to have two characters who are fully developed and relatable and their attraction doesn’t follow all the usual yawn inducing YA tropes. i had no idea there was controversy about this, wtf??? this book is pretty pg-rated i thought. humph!

  6. I’m so glad that you enjoyed Eleanor & Park, Allison. It’s my favorite book that I’ve read this year. And I definitely do not think it should be banned. Of course, I don’t think any books should be banned, but I’m a librarian. We almost always feel that way 🙂

  7. Loved this one! When I saw that people were trying to get it banned I sort of got all mama bear over it. While I don’t think books should be banned period, I can certainly think of others that are more risque or pushing the envelope than this one. To me, this book shows the non-pretty side of life in a way that doesn’t super shock you. It’s matter of fact without being over the top to push a point. And Eleanor and Park are GOOD kids; they’re the kind of kids you should want your kids to be. Anyway… I could go on for hours about this, but I won’t. I’m so happy you enjoyed it and hope that others get to enjoy it without closed-minded people trying to ruin it for them!

  8. Great review! I’m dying to read this book, especially after reading and loving Attachments. I actually think the controversy has a lot more people wanting to read Eleanor & Park now.

  9. I got to meet Rainbow Rowell at LeakyCon 2013, and let me tell you she is just as awesome in person as you’d expect from this wonderful book. If you ever get the chance to, I’d definitely recommend going to one of her events.

  10. Oh my goodness, I love your review. And I love that you loved this book! I adored it as well and can’t imagine some people not being able to read it just because of a few closeminded…well…idiots. Rowell is absolutely amazing. Have you read Fangirl yet? I devoured it yesterday in one sitting and freaking loved the hell out of it. Amazing.

  11. I just finished this book, myself and yes! yes! yes! to everything you said! This book was amazing, both because of how real the characters felt, and also because it managed to tackle serious issues without coming off as a “serious, issue book.” Rainbow Rowell has definitely earned my undying admiration and attention for being such an amazing writer. And like you, I very much identified with Eleanor. I was never subjected to the horrible things she dealt with, but I was always kinda a weirdo girl who didn’t fit in easily or make new friends easily. So, so, so glad this book is in the world, and hopefully adults stop trying to “protect” teens from being exposed to such a wonderful book! Thanks for the awesome review of this phenomenal book!

  12. I’m happy you liked this novel
    I loved it to bits, and I loved seeing Park and Eleanor interact. I loved Park’s parents, I really did 😀

  13. I’m still a bit in awe that this book has been banned, considering that it really wasn’t that bad. The sexy bits totally fade to black. There was swearing I guess, but I don’t remember it being filthy or excessive. Of course, I swear like a sailor sometimes, so maybe I’m desensitized. I can only imagine this one got banned because of how popular it is. The content really doesn’t merit it.

    Also, gym was the worst. I was chunky in high school, and I’m relatively big boned myself (which is totally a thing, because at skin and bones, I MIGHT make it into a juniors size 3). Also, I’m not remotely athletic, so I got chosen last for everything, which shows intelligence in the choosers, but is awful as an individual.