Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Let me just start by saying that I really wanted to like this book because of all the wonderful things I've heard about not only Eleanor and Park but about all of Rainbow Rowell's books. The truth is, I didn't like it at all, so much that I had to DNF it and I absolutely hate doing that.

The main reason I didn't like it was because of what I expected when I started. I thought, from all the reviews I'd read, that this would be a fun, light story with a fluffy romance and some awkward teenage moments. I thought it would be another Anna and the French Kiss but in the 80's. Oh my goodness was I wrong.

I do not like reading about abuse, rape or anything in that area. To stop myself from ranting, the short answer as to 'why?' is that those kinds of things hit way too close to home for me. I feel uncomfortable and instantly put off when I read a synopsis and see that's what the book will be focused on. These subjects are a very personal matter and I refuse to read anything like that. I had no idea Eleanor and Park would have these kinds of deep, hard-hitting subjects in it's pages. The first time I read the line about the bruises on her mother's wrist, I read it fifty times over and then shut the book. After an hour or so of scrolling through Goodreads and Google for reviews, I picked it back up again determined to get past this bad feeling I had. Most people had said this was an inspiring story with a cute romance that reminds them of their first time in love. I did not see this at all. As I said before, I really wanted to like this book and when I knew it was going straight over my head I thought 'what am I missing here?' Was I not seeing something that everyone else saw? Had a section of my book not been printed or something? I felt totally disconnected from the characters and the story they were telling.

Also, the point of view literally changes on every page. Actually, we're lucky if we get one full page of Eleanor's or Park's POV. It changes so quickly and at first I didn't mind but then I just got confused as to who I was reading about. 
The relationship; all I'm going to say is that their relationship is not the stuff of dreams. I didn't see the transition from being indifferent to each other and becoming friends because it happened so fast and in such a strange way. I didn't read far enough to see them become more than friends unfortunately. I was hoping this would be the thing that redeemed the entire book but I just couldn't read that far.

So... against my better judgment, I read on. I got 60(ish) pages in and knew I couldn't read anymore. The racism was another thing that bothered me. I understand this book is set in the 80's and all but apart from the offhanded Chinese comment about Park, Eleanor was the one who bothered me the most. She was kind of casually racist, as in she thought it was okay to think that about the boy. Does she have no conscience or common sense?

I made the mistake, just before writing this review, to skim through the book towards the end just so I could see what happened. What I read was absolutely vile and it turned my stomach. Notes from someone who I wont mention in case I spoil it. These notes... I can't even begin to explain my horror. I absolutely will not be picking this book up again as I do with many of my past DNF books. Safe to say I never made it to the end pages. The book is in my drawers so I wont be reminded of the disappointment it was and what the story held.

The one and only thing I liked about Eleanor and Park was the short chapters. I'm one of those people that have to finish the chapter I'm on before closing the book to take a break so having 60 pages in one chapter isn't my cup of tea. I felt like I was reading two different stories too, like I would be reading about how awful her stepdad is and them BAM, she's back on the school bus and thinking about why Park wont look at her.

I'm kind of sad now that I didn't get the experience everyone else seems to have had. I thought about not even doing this review because I don't want all the fans to torch my house down or something but this blog's reviews can't all be sunshine and happiness because there will always be a book I don't like. No one likes everything they read, so I wrote the review. I'm happy I did as it gave me a chance to write down all my feelings on this book and I bet Nicole from daysofbooksandstarlight is suuuuper relieved because now she doesn't have to listen to me rant on and on about this book or have 30 messages sent to her in the space of a minute. Thanks for putting up with me, lovely;)

So, did anyone else not like the book? I feel kind of alone on this one so hearing how you felt about it would be awesome! (Oh and please, E&P fans, do not come and torch my house down. I'm rather fond of it.)


  1. Hahaha, it was rather entertaining hearing you message me about it :D Except the abuse parts, because that's just a no! But I loved your review, even though it's not positive and just made me even more concrete my choosing of not reading Eleanor and Park.

  2. Awww sorry you're so disappointed but you're definitely not alone. I honestly don't know why this book was getting so much hype and why people labeled it as cute. WHY?!? While I liked Park (because he's Asian and I'm Asian which I know is a weird reason hahaa but I think I can relate to him), Eleanor was a big fat NO for me. I mean, I felt really bad for her and I'm glad she at least had Park but she's just so negative. She frustrated and irritated me. There were a few cute and fuzzy moments but they weren't that memorable. Lastly, that ending was not an ending. The End.

    1. Super glad that someone else agrees with me, it doesn't feel so good to be in the minority of people who didn't enjoy this book. I honestly keep feeling like I missed something! It's not completely put me off the author's books, I still would like to try Fangirl as a lot more people loved this story:)

    2. Yessss!! I loved Fangirl ;)

  3. I have yet to read this book and now I'm really scared to because you didn't like it. There has been this massive Rainbow Rowell movement going on in the YA community and generally when books are super-hyped, I tend to avoid them because I usually fall into the minority that dislikes them. Lovely review, Amber!

    1. You should definitely read it and form your own opinions as a lot of people loved this book! I'm going to try more of Rainbow Rowell's books because I think it may have been mostly personal reasons as to why I didn't like this particular book. I was instantly put off by the subject that takes over half the story and I doubt they're all about that! Thank you, sweetheart:)