Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

This was a book that I couldn’t seem to get away from.  I had heard it was a good book that would make me “feel the feels”.  People were comparing it a lot to The Fault in Our Stars which for me, personally, should have screamed “stay away from this book!”.  I was probably one of the very few people that didn’t enjoy that book.  The novel is written by Rainbow Rowell and I’ve read her book Attachments which I enjoyed so I thought I’d give this one a shot and I put it on hold at the library.

What The Book Is About

This book follows the love story of two teens who were both outcasts in their own regard.  Eleanor was “fat”, dressed in oversized men’s clothing, and had big red curly hair – an automatic ticket to becoming a pariah and be the target of a lot of bullying in high school.  Park on the other hand had the school thing down for the most part.  He was quiet and generally liked in school but I found he was an outcast within his family.  These two misfits start their journey by sitting next to each other on the school bus.  As in many a teenage love story, the two don’t really like each other but their relationship evolves and before they know it, they’re inseparable.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed Rowell’s simplistic writing style and found that it was perfect to describe a teenage love story.  The chapters were short and each chapter gave the point of view of either Eleanor or Park.  I’m not sure I’d consider this a very memorable book.  I found that Eleanor and Park’s characters were quite flat and, at many times, just plain annoying.  It just felt like the same old thing and the characters didn’t develop enough for me.  Understanding that Eleanor came from a messed up family situation (in that her family was quite poor and her stepdad was a really messed up and hateful man), I thought that Eleanor’s character could have had a bit more dimension to her rather than being so dull.  
It’s admittedly been quite some time since I was in high school so perhaps I didn’t understand/couldn’t relate to the unrealistic and occasionally over dramatic story line.  Like one minute the two of them hate eachother and the next they can’t breathe when they’re not together (puke!).  When I tried to go back to my high school self, sure I could relate to some of the feelings you get in teenage love but never did I love someone so much I “wanted eat his face”!  Maybe I didn’t experience teenage love to its full cannibalistic potential?  There were many cheesy parts where I had to force myself to read this like a teenager but still found the content had me rolling my eyes to the point where my husband probably thought I needed an exorcism.  
I found the story itself quite cliche and thought it dragged on a bit more than it needed to. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the way the book ended with a “interpret that however you want” kind of ending (although I know it’s been written that way to keep the possibility open for a sequel).  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind an occasional cliff-hanger ending but from my point of view, I felt gypped.  I mean I committed to this overly-dramatic book (even though I was tempted to put it down many times) and couldn’t even get a proper ending DAMMIT?!  I call major BS on that!!
People that enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars or A Walk To Remember would probably enjoy this book more than I did.  I don’t think I’m completely turned off Rowell’s novels but this one was a huge miss for me.

One thought on “Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

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