Emily May's Reviews > Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
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Jan 13, 14

bookshelves: young-adult, romance, arc, 2012
Read from October 15 to 18, 2012

Edit 09/13: I said a while ago when I read this book that it wasn't exactly my thing. But I really need to say something about the pathetic and narrow-minded people who caused so much trouble for the author (and others) and completely misrepresented this book. And I also want to say that I love everything Ms Rowell says in response to what has happened (that you can read in the link above). I suddenly want to tell everyone I know to read Eleanor & Park. And I fucking hate censorship.

Three stars is not a wholly negative rating but I have to admit that I'm rather disappointed in this one. I'm not sure why, but I felt this would be the rule-breaker for my "no contemporary young adult romance" stance. Apparently not. This has enjoyable parts but the only real difference I can see between this and Pushing the Limits is that the characters in the latter are meant to be hot. Which could have been interesting because I've always preferred reading about the so-called freaks and losers - the outsiders, in other words - than I have the hot people, but these two books follow the same generic pattern of teen love stories with a whole ton of behind-the-scenes angsty issues. Though this one was, in my opinion, less entertaining.

It's 1986. Eleanor is the new girl and she is not only genetically made to look like a victim but she does herself no favours by pairing her looks with a bizarre fashion sense. Having nowhere to sit on the school bus, she takes a seat next to the clearly reluctant Park. Park is half-Korean in an extremely white school, but he is given enough respect by the popular kids to help him get by. His home life, unlike Eleanor's, is pretty much perfect apart from a bit of badgering by his dad. Slowly over time, these two individuals develop a relationship that is formed around stuff like reading comics together and exchanging mix tapes. And other totally cool nerd things like Star Wars and Shakespeare - which I could easily relate to. I think one of the major problems I had with this book is that I failed to get a sense of the attraction between them, their relationship to me seemed more suited to friendship than love. The progression from reluctant bus partners to friendship was natural in the story, but I then felt that the jump from that to boyfriend/girlfriend feelings was too immediate and unbelievable.

Not only that, but where I felt the start of their relationship avoided the usual cliches and did something a bit different (like the way their relationship begins without them speaking to one another), I felt that once they were "together" or whatever you want to call it, it quickly dissolved into the usual sweet nothings and thoughts like "I'll die if I never see him again" after knowing each other for a few weeks. This isn't insta-love, but it's silliness. Or perhaps I really am just a cold-hearted, unromantic person?

I did like the well-rounded feel of both characters, though. The author gave them many different levels, making them experience a range of emotions in a realistic way. I also thought the darker element of this novel was mostly handled well, Eleanor's home life is told gradually in a frightening way that is suitable for such situations. But it does just heighten my ability to make comparisons between this and Pushing the Limits, and I don't like serious issues such as domestic violence being used to fuel the love angst and create a Romeo and Juliet kind of forbidden love scenario. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

This book will be great (hopefully) for fans of quirky, nerdy romance stories with an underlying dark angsty side, and for those who love typical nerdy references. If you don't usually like young adult romance and were eying this up as possibly being the book to change all that... you'll probably be disappointed. It has good parts, but it's not that different from anything else out there.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 87) (87 new)

Diah Didi When you said "This book will be great (hopefully) for fans of quirky, nerdy romance stories with an underlying dark angsty side, and for those who love typical nerdy references", I felt like you're talking to me, and you're right. :D

Emily May Haha, that's great! You will probably love this :)

Diah Didi Yep! I loved it! :D

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Ariel I'm one of the fans you described in your last paragraph, so I have a good chance of enjoying it.

I wouldn't be looking so closely if I hadn't read this author already - "Attachments", adult contemporary romance (but not the steamy covers kind). Made me laugh & cry. Hopefully her voice is strong here, too. :)

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Kelli Lee Great Emily. I have one question for you, if you don't mind. The 16 Candles reference has me wanting to read this book stat (eternal love for the movie, i have), so in your opinion is that comparison correct?

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Kelli Lee meant to say, "great review, Emily."

Emily May Thanks Kelly! But I'm sorry I can't help you on that one - I haven't seen the movie :/

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Kelli Lee What?! You've got to watch said movie. You've just got to. John Hughes at his finest. Well, I suppose I'll have to check the book out for myself, see if the comparison is in fact on the money.

Emily May Hmm, I will definitely have to watch that :)

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Kelli Lee I apologize in advance for my movie pushing ways. Aside from suffering from bibliophilia, cinephilia is just as potent. Sixteen Candles is a classic, IMO. Just like Pretty in Pink, though not as good. Probably most would probably argue with that statement.

Emily May Oh wow, I love Pretty in Pink. I may have to come back and thank you for this recommendation ;)

message 12: by Kelli (new) - added it

Kelli Lee Sweet, you love Pretty in Pink too. Oh, Ducky, how I love him so. See, I knew I liked you, Emily. Great taste in movies as well as books! :) Yes, when you get around to viewing Sixteen Candles, you have to let me know your thoughts, good or bad.

Ashley I completely agree with everything you said. It was just eh, kinda flat. I also thought their relationship was too fast and unbelievable. Disappointing :/

Emily May Thanks Ashley :)

Nicole I just finished this and feel inclined to give it 2 stars. I feel very similar to you about their feelings being too immediate and unbelievable and that set the tone for the whole book. And I too don't understand the attraction between the two. Park seemed to say things that could come off as insensitive to Eleanor and Eleanor herself was always moody and insecure (justified or not). I don't know I was just very disappointed in this. Great job in your review!

Emily May Thanks, Nicole!

Chelsie drew I completely agree, and the ending for me was a disappointment

message 18: by B (new) - rated it 3 stars

B I agree, Emily. I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. I linked to you in my review of it, too!

Emily May Thanks for the link! Too bad it was a disappointment for you too, though :/

Rebekah Decker I thought I was alone! Great thoughts

Emily May Thank you!

Lilian Vasanthie Naidoo I felt the opposite. Like this one alot, didn't like pushing the limits. Different strokes. Thank you for the review :0)

Emily May Thanks for commenting :) I'm glad you enjoyed it more.

Hayley Hall great review I actually abandoned it because I had those problems too

Emily May Thanks, Hayley :)

Nicole Rivera After reading your review I am SO HAPPY I went with the audiobook instead of print. I think the narrators did an awesome job of bringing the believability. As I was listening I kept thinking to myself, I think this book might have driven me crazy, however, with the audiobook it was an easy five stars for me. :)

Jessica I hadn't heard about this controversy..."Dangerously obscene" seems a bit over the top. And most of the "pornographic" quotes in that report are taken a bit out of context, given that they're portrayed as a bad thing in the book.

Emily May From what I've read, it seems they took everything out of context. But I guess that's small-minded people for you...

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Vavita Thanks for the update to your review. I will read it now. I have heard about things like that only in USA. It is really sad and so different from other countries. Here my son sees naked people in the sauna and has never thought anything dirty about it. It is actually the adults who put the "dirty" to what should be normal.

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Navessa Oh and these are the same people that are waging a war on gay teens? Fuck that county. It's fucking crazy to me that this shit still goes on.

Emily May @Litchick I know, me too. If you haven't already, DO NOT visit their website. I thought I was prepared... I wasn't.

@Vavita No problem. I really hope this controversy actually works in the author's favour. These people make me so mad.

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Navessa I'm staying away. Reading through that post was bad enough, too much more and I may have a rage-induced aneurysm.

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Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship Her response was so good and precisely for that, I might read this book.

I wish people would read books and get their minds out of the... people were even more profane in the 16th century, right? Ugh, when have we never been profane? It's like in our genes or something. These people are trying to curb our natural tendencies. That's some fucking inhumane thinking right there.

Emily May And when they start on about Park's sexual urges I just about die. Ohmigod! The evil sex that is one of the most natural things on the planet and is the reason we're all alive! And there's not even any sex in this book, Park is just an accurate portrait of a regular teenage boy with hormones. Fuck... people are stupid.

Melissa Thanks for your 9/13 edit. I didn't know that this happened. I happened to love the book, and the people who censored it obviously missed the whole point of it. Sad.

Shawna RE: 9/13 edit....Well said!

Crowinator She's joined the ranks of many fabulous authors with this challenge, as sad as it is. Thanks for adding the information on the challenge; I had no idea and I try to keep up with this in my own library work. Ugh -- censors!

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Mindy Wow! Thank You Emily for sharing this. The more people that know about this hideous group the better. When the author mentions that these few are determining for many it makes me insane. It is so infuriating that these people have nothing better to do than try and censor books. Ugh! Get A Life!

Michelle As a born, raised, and current Minnesotan, I'm incredibly saddened that this is happening in my backyard. Apologies on behalf of those of us (most of us) who are not so close minded. This is going on my TBR shelf right now and I will be urging my 14-year old to read it as well.
Thanks for all your terrific reviews. Please keep the genius coming.

Emily May No problem, ladies, more people need to know about this :)

@Michelle That's fantastic to hear, Michelle. It's so sad that a small group of small-minded individuals can cause so much trouble for everyone else.

message 42: by Vavita (new) - added it

Vavita Michelle wrote: "As a born, raised, and current Minnesotan, I'm incredibly saddened that this is happening in my backyard..."


message 43: by Maria (new)

Maria That's so horrible!
Makes me appreciate how I could read everything I wanted when I was a child or teenager. I really admire those people who have to deal with such intolerant parents on a daily basis...not sure if I could do it.

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Jason I didn't know about the whole censorship thing. Totally not my book but now I'll read it. Pass it along. Take photos of me reading it. Put it on twitter and hash tag the hell out of that school. It's not the early nineteen hundreds people

Leslie I just finished the audiobook and was headed to Goodreads to write a glowing review. I absolutely LOVED the book. I'm a sucker for a good romance, so it's definitely my kind of book. The audio version may be the best I've ever listened to - the actors do an excellent job bringing back those feelings of first love. I'm so so so sad that there has been this horrible censorship of this lovely book. Thanks for the link with the back story. It makes me love it even more, and I'm going to tell everyone I know to add it to their reading list, just to piss off those narrow minded stupid people.

message 46: by Kareena (new)

Kareena How is the book?Is it a stereotypical romance book?

Emily May Hmm, it is a bit. But I'm probably not the best judge because I'm not a big fan of romance :/

message 48: by Graylark (new) - added it

Graylark @the censorship issue because of swearing: I suppose those pearl-clutchers never heard of Catcher in the fucking Rye.

Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading* Thanks for posting the link about the censorship with it. I hadn't known that before, so spent time reading it, then linked from it to other sites and read more news about censorship issues. I havent read this book, or heard of it, but it looks intriguing

Emily May No problem, Erin :)

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