Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

81%

65 Critic Reviews

Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike.
-Kirkus

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.

 

About Rainbow Rowell

See more books from this Author
Rainbow Rowell, author of Elanor & Park, is a columnist at The Omaha World-Herald, where she writes about pop culture and lifestyles. She lives in Nebraska with her family.
 
Published February 26, 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin. 335 pages
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, History. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Eleanor & Park
All: 65 | Positive: 58 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 02 2013

Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike.

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Kirkus

Good
Reviewed by Jenny Bird on Apr 16 2013

Good Lord, the intensity of the swoon in this book. Rowell writes romantic scenes in a way that feels completely honest to her characters, is breathtaking in its innocence, and yet…you might want to set your air conditioning to it's coldest setting, ifyouknowwhatimsayin'.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 31 2016

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.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Hannah Moushabeck on Jan 10 2013

I would recommend this book to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, or Laurie Halse Anderson. And I’d tempt anyone looking for a romance in whatever genre to try this truly excellent read.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by John Green on Mar 08 2013

...“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.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Scarlett, The Bookaholics on Mar 25 2015

I love the way she writes normally in normal-ish situations. I think she likes to write set in the past-Eleanor and Park is set in the 80's and Attachments is set in 1999. Overall I think she is just a fabulous writer and I wish I could put words on a piece of paper like she does.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by PankhuriD on Mar 17 2015

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5 stars for its touching story, conversational language and compelling characters.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Rosa on Nov 11 2014

They were young and they were realistic; realistic enough to know that they belonged together. Eleanor and Park will become heroes on my bookshelf. Especially Park. I really want a boyfriend like him.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Summer Aurora on Aug 15 2014

Not only can Rowell write a kick-ass plot and characters, her actual writing was frankly some of the best I have read in a long time. Whatever came out of either characters mouth was silky and beautiful.

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Dear Author

Good
Reviewed by Jayne on Jan 22 2013

The joy and wonder of teenage love is cut with the awkwardness and fumbling that goes along with it. The vicious cruelty and bullying teens can show at the least sign of not fitting in is hard to read about...I think the way is cleared for a future for them and that their chance at it is a good one.

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All About Romance

Excellent
Reviewed by Jenna Harper on Apr 17 2013

This book will haunt you. It will make you hurt and it will make you smile, and you’ll be thinking about these characters long after their story has finished.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Katie Ward Beim-Esche on Dec 09 2013

Observant. Incisive. Tense, yet buoyant with hope. "Eleanor & Park" is constructed like a Swiss watch: tightly knit and perfectly paced.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Courtney Jones on Dec 30 2016

The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship they develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too.

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Pajiba

Above average
Reviewed by scootsa1000 on May 29 2013

I wish I could have stayed in the middle of this book for much longer. The beginning was great, and the ending was depressing. But the middle was simply perfect.

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Book Buzz

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Thiegs on Dec 03 2013

If you know a teenage girl who loves Sarah Dessen or even Veronica Roth books, you need to get her a copy of “Eleanor & Park” this Christmas. AND, if you know a 30-something to 40-something woman who grew up in the ’80s, you need to get her a copy, too.

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The Rumpus

Good
Reviewed by EMI GILLIS on Jun 21 2013

...she’s had her mind on a possible sequel, maybe set years later. I very much hope that this happens because I’d love Eleanor to finally get a chance to bite Park’s face—and because as intense as it is to be in love when you’re young, it’s better when you’re older.

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The Young Folks

Excellent
Reviewed by Stephanie Estrada on Apr 13 2013

With or without a continuation, Eleanor & Park is an unforgettable novel that won’t easily leave your mind, and with good reason.

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A Book and a Hug

Good
Reviewed by Barb on Mar 24 2013

Here come two characters you won't let go of readily. This is one of those books you wish you would never quite finish. Prepare to fall in love with Eleanor and Park.

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Asian Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Mia Warren on Aug 26 2013

In a stunning YA debut, author Rainbow Rowell succeeds in channeling the best that 1980s filmmaker John Hughes had to offer: that timeless quality of teenage rebellion...

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The Horn Book

Good
Reviewed by KATRINA HEDEEN on Apr 17 2013

This book is endearing, humorous, believable, sexy, and heart-wrenching, and it embodies nearly all of the qualities we looked for: the characters are crisply realized and wonderfully quirky...

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WAPL Teens

Good
Reviewed by Megan on Apr 04 2013

If you enjoyed The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman, wanted to hug I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or love Stephen Emond's books as much as Katie does, you have to add Eleanor & Park to your spring break pile of books!

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YA Highway

Good
Reviewed by EMILIA PLATER on Dec 31 2016

I won't spoil the ending, but it was… yeah, it was pretty mind-blowing. (Is that a spoiler? If so, sorry!) There are a lot of things that don't happen in Eleanor & Park, and IMO, those things are what makes the story so achingly real...

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The BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Cat on Feb 20 2013

...I found Eleanor & Park so special. Neither character really believes in ever after. They do, however, get to experience every surprising moment of young love, every second of anticipation as they fall for each other.

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Break Point

Above average
Reviewed by Gina Dalfonzo on Mar 26 2013

Rainbow Rowell knows how to tell a rich and compelling story about unforgettable characters. I hope, though, that the next time she writes a teen novel, it will be more appropriate for teens.

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TATAL

Good
Reviewed by nico on Mar 11 2013

If you're a realistic fiction fan, or just a fan of great YA, don't miss Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It's a book that you'll be seeing in December when I write up my best of the year, but don't wait till then to get your hands on it!

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by preppygirl26 on Dec 31 2016

...this book leaves a hole in your chest when it’s over, something that can only be periodically filled again with gleams of light from other books. A true emotional experience, you become part of the book while you read. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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Rhapsody in Books

Excellent
on Aug 07 2013

So what would I have changed? Well, okay not much, BUT, I would have liked an extra sentence or two at the end. An epilogue, maybe...I highly recommend this deftly constructed and deeply moving book.

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Jenn's Bookshelves

Excellent
Reviewed by Jenn on May 14 2013

I recommend this book highly to all readers, even if you do not typically read young adult. Eleanor and Park will have a resounding effect on your soul. I know they did with mine.

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Reading Lark

Excellent
Reviewed by Paula on Nov 27 2013

In writing this review, I've picked the book up several times to look at spots I've marked. Each time I do, I lose several minutes and turn several pages- and I'm right back there with Eleanor and Park, reliving it all.

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Reading for Sanity

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Sep 23 2013

A coming-of-age story that explores those tough choices of adolescence and also provides a trip down memory lane for those of us that grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s.

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Sarah Reads Too Much

Good
Reviewed by Sarah on May 23 2013

I seriously loved this book. Did I mention that already? These two are REAL to me. I hope they become real for you too.

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Annette's Book Spot

Good
Reviewed by Annette on Nov 26 2013

I prefer my romance as a secondary story line. Or at least, I need other secondary story lines besides the romance. Personal opinion only. For the type of book this is, it's one of the best I've ever read.

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Confessions of a Book Addict

Good
Reviewed by Christina on Nov 25 2013

Simply put, Eleanor and Park's relationship is awesome. Rowell really captures what that first relationship is like. It was beautiful, it was heart-wrenching, it was real and I loved it!

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Book Hooked Blog

Good
Reviewed by Julie G on Oct 21 2013

Obviously I have it on my nook now, but I'll also be buying a print copy because it is just that good. I need to be able to lend it to people. And by lend I mean thrust into their hands and force their eyes to look at the pages. Get it and read it!

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The Book Stop

Good
Reviewed by curlygeek04 on Jun 12 2013

I don’t want to say too much about this book, but it was fantastic. You will not want to put this book down once you’ve started. I would recommend this book to my teenage nieces but to adult readers as well.

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Peace Love Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica on Mar 11 2013

...you all have to read this book right now! There's so much growth and love in this book I just want to hold it tight and never let go. Haha, so read it now! I'm begging you!

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http://www.reviewstream.com

Above average
Reviewed by Andy Diaz on Dec 29 2016

I finally decided to give it a chance, and I found a beautiful and real love story, but it’s a story that lacked a little bit more to be completely perfect for me.

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Just a Lil' Lost...

Excellent
Reviewed by MICHELE on Oct 06 2013

Eleanor & Park was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. There were so many moments where I found myself rooting for the star-crossed duo, but cringing as I wait for the other shoe to drop.

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Cuddle Buggery Book Blog

Below average
Reviewed by Steph Sinclair on Nov 22 2013

I went in with really high expectations, thinking I was going to be blown into next week by the awesome. Instead, I’m walking away with feelings brewing a special pot of “meh.”

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Cuddle Buggery Book Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Adrienne Fray on May 14 2013

If you are not as in to contemporary romance as I am, I would be hesitant to recommend this to you, because the focus was, as one might guess, on Park and Eleanor’s relationship, which did lead to a lot of saccharine sweet-type moments. If, however, you are game, I have a feeling you’re going to like this one!

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The Picky Girl

Good
Reviewed by Jenn on Apr 11 2013

Set in the 80s, when a mixed tape could convey more than any love note, Rainbow Rowell writes a love story for the misfits, a story about the imperfect guys and gals, the kind who loved Star Trek and The Smiths...

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Alexa Loves Books

Excellent
on Dec 13 2012

It is this beautiful authenticity that made me fall completely in love with Eleanor & Park. Set against a stark backdrop of more serious issues, their love story was utterly believable and very, very sweet.

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http://www.dawn.com

Good
Reviewed by Mohsin Siddiqui on Nov 17 2013

...Rowell’s book is different from many other young adult romances...Eleanor & Park is diaphanous as gossamer, but with the tensile strength of steel cable.

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Mermaid Vision Books

Below average
Reviewed by Angel Cruz on Apr 22 2013

Eleanor & Park read like a sketch of a painting: not quite whole, not quite full and not quite real enough to capture my imagination and make me love it.

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Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Below average
Reviewed by Laura on Apr 10 2013

...even though I found myself incredibly let down by Eleanor and Park, due in large part to the lack of proper research and context into cultural and historical issues that I find quite important, especially for what is termed a historical novel, I still harbor optimism for any of Rainbow Rowell’s future works.

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YA Love

Good
Reviewed by MRS. ANDERSEN on Apr 06 2013

To sum this up, Eleanor & Park is already a favorite of 2013. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. Rainbow Rowell can’t write another YA novel fast enough because I want to read everything she writes.

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Reading Rants

Good
on Oct 15 2012

...what is new here is how the author portrays young love–with a brio and honesty that just took my breath away, it was so fresh and true.

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The Reader Bee

Above average
Reviewed by Christy on Dec 23 2013

Overall, this was my first Rainbow Rowell read, but it definitely won’t be my last! I can’t wait to checkout Fangirl next! If you’re a fan of contemporary novels, you’re definitely going to love Eleanor & Park.

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Romance Around the Corner

Good
Reviewed by Brie on Mar 12 2013

It’s not a perfect book, far from it, but I highly recommend it to everyone, especially to those who might be a bit jaded and are in need of a story that feels warm, sweet and welcoming.

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Pure Imagination

Good
on Feb 11 2013

This book makes me heavy sigh just thinking about it. I would read it again in a heartbeat. I will certainly be reading everything by Rainbow Rowell that I can get my hands on.

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Carina's Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Carina Olsen on Apr 29 2013

...Eleanor & Park is such an amazing book. And you all need to read it. So if you own it, go read it right away. If you don't own it, go buy it. And you need to read it as soon as possible.

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Anna Reads

Good
Reviewed by Anna on Feb 25 2013

I read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell right after my friend Magan and thank goodness I had someone to talk to about it because, you guys, it was SO GOOD. It was one of those books that I could not stop thinking about and needed to dissect IN DEPTH.

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Book News and Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Tracy on Nov 27 2013

Though it is solidly grounded in the period (did I forget to mention the book is set in 1986?), Eleanor and Park is a timeless, universal story of first love.

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So Misguided

Above average
Reviewed by Monique on Nov 30 2015

It’s a cute, he said/she said, look at typical teenager inner thoughts. The insights into Eleanor’s situation depict a troubled home life, poverty and life with an abusive parent, in this case a short-tempered stepfather who is an alcoholic, drug user.

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SarahReck.com

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Reck on Aug 26 2013

What Eleanor & Park is, really, is refreshing. I haven’t read anything like it in a long time. It’s new and fresh and the characters came alive off the page for me.

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Fiction Folio

Good
Reviewed by Tara on Apr 05 2013

...I couldn’t help but fall in love with the 80s culture that I grew up with (yes, I am dating myself). The clothing style, listening to Walkmans, and the cultural references all meshed to create a lovely trip down memory lane for me. I highly recommend Eleanor & Park to anyone who loves contemp YA with a lot of grit and emotion.

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Hello Giggles

Good
Reviewed by Kerry Winfrey on Dec 30 2016

The book, as the title suggests, is about Eleanor and Park, but Rainbow’s other characters really round out their world.

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A Backwards Story

Good
Reviewed by Bonnie on Dec 26 2013

What I like most about the novel is how human everyone is. Teenagers--and even adults--are so focused on themselves and what they are going through that they can't comprehend someone else's POV. In ELEANOR & PARK, we get both sides.

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Recovering Potter Addict

Good
Reviewed by AYLEE on Jul 26 2015

Eleanor & Park is unlike any YA Contemporary Romance out there and it is that, combined with Rainbow Rowell's talent at crafting genuine characters who experience earnest love, which makes it so special.

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this ain't livin'

Excellent
Reviewed by s.e. smith on Jun 09 2013

...brilliantly crafted and elegantly written, with the kind of prose that pulls you under in a determined tide that won’t let you up until the very last page, when, trust me, you’ll be ranting and shaking your fists at the indignity of the world.

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A Little Shelf of Heaven

Excellent
Reviewed by Kristy on Mar 25 2013

If you like books that are raw and serious, but at the same time cheesy and hilarious, pick up Eleanor & Park. This book was incredible and wonderful and I can't wait to read more from Rainbow Rowell.

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Stellar Four

Good
Reviewed by Sara N. on Dec 13 2013

Did I say this book had no magic in it? It does. The magic of the connection between Eleanor and Park will linger long after you've read the last page.

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Flyleaf Review

Good
Reviewed by Rainbow Rowell on Jan 30 2013

The book, told in 3rd person dual narrative, features two remarkably fleshed out and finely crafted characters. And I would be hard pressed to say who I loved more, or whose narrative I enjoyed more.

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The Page Sage

Excellent
on Jul 15 2013

As for the ending, it's perfect. I won't say whether it ends happily or tragically- no spoilers policy and all that- but it fits the book. While it's clearly understandable, there's just the right amount of ambiguity, and it's really just perfect.

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Sash & Em

Below average
on Jun 03 2013

...it’s just this particular book that didn’t do it for me...I put this book on my Everyone Loved But Me shelf...

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Reader Rating for Eleanor & Park
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 4859 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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User Review

David Duarte Gill 8 Jan 2015

good book.

User Review

Maya Venter 29 Sep 2015

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

David Duarte Gill

David Duarte Gill 8 Jan 2015

Has read the book

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O 30 Oct 2014

Added the book to want to read list

Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

Lauren Robinson

Lauren Robinson 24 Oct 2013

Liked the book

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