Book: Eleanor & Park

5 May


I got this book as a birthday present from a friend. He’s also a book addict, by the way. He thought I would find it interesting since it features a Western girl and an Asian boy as the main characters of a romance story. Well, let me tell you, I was disappointed because I thought it would deal with their cultural differences, but instead it’s mainly about how her broken family gets in the way of  her life and her relationship with her boyfriend. However, I’m going to put aside my disappointment and review it as another kind of story. Eleanor & Park, even if the story is, in my opinion, not that original, it does tell it in an unique way. Are you up for a sweet love story?

General Information:

  • Author: Rainbow Rowell
  • Country: United States
  • Pages: around 328 (depends on edition)
  • Genre: romance
  • Publication date: 2o13
  • Movie: soon


Eleanor is the new girl at the school. She is overweight, has messy read hair and a unique dressing style. Her family is broken: she has a lot of younger brothers, an abusive stepfather, a weak mother and an uncaring father. When she first gets on the school bus, she has a hard time finding a seat. She can’t sit with the cool kids at the rear (they are already making fun of her), but there are not many other seats lefts… The driver urges her to seat and Eleanor has to decide quickly. Then that Asian guy who has two seats only to himself asks her very rudely to sit down beside him.

Park comes from a good family with a somewhat strict Irish father, a Korean mother and an annoying younger brother. He doesn’t like the looks of the new girl. She seems to do everything she can to stand out. Wrong! He is afraid that asking her to sit beside him will cause him trouble with the other guys. He is usually ignored and he likes it that way, but at the end he does ask her to sit down… angrily.

From then on, Park and Eleanor sit down together in the school bus in silence. Park tries to ignore her while listening to music and reading comics, but he is fed up with the awkward situation and when he catches her reading his comics, he starts to lend them to her… without saying a word. He later starts to record songs she wants to listen to and even lends her his Walkman.

Then the unlikely pair fall for each other.

Will they be together in spite of Eleanor’s problems with her family?


Both main characters are correctly outlined. They really are teenagers, with their insecurities and stubbornness. I don’t really have much to say besides that I liked them. Secondary characters are also very good, although they are usually in the background. In general, I think everyone is a bit underdeveloped, though, but I think it’s due to the simple writing style of the author.

The best:

  • The real teenage romance feeling. The author captures it very well.
  • It’s refreshing is not about the ugly duckling falling for the popular kid in school. They are both outcasts, although Park seems to be popular in some kind of way?
  • She is fat. I don’t remember reading stories where the main girl is fat, specially in romantic stories. I have yet to find one where the guy is fat, though.
  • I really love the very last sentence. It was an open end, but it didn’t bother me at all.
  • It has a lot of good quote material. For example, I love this: “She never looked nice. She looked like art and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” I should start a quote section, right? 😛
  • There is going to be a movie! I think it will do well as such if done right 🙂

The worst:

  • The simple writing style. Don’t get me wrong, it fitted the story perfectly and it gives it a unique way of reading it. I did like it, but it makes the story feel underdeveloped.
  • I found it a bit boring.
  • Some loose ends… or it feels like loose ends because of the simple writing style.
  • Koreans don’t wear kimonos. Please, get your facts right, woman… Sorry, that really bother me. It also bothers me that his name is Park, which is actually a surname and not a name… Duh. There may be other wrong facts that I’m not aware of.
  • I read the Spanish translation and it wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t horrible either. I’m not going to star complaining about it though, but I wanted to mention it.


6 out of 10. It didn’t really make it for me. I wasn’t hook and I read the last part in a rush because I wanted to finish it quickly… But I think others may enjoy it more than me. After all, I’m more into complicated stories 😀 Still it was really sweet.

5 Responses to “Book: Eleanor & Park”

  1. ChibiDani May 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    If you search this book on Tumblr there’s soooo much hate towards it. I think because it has a bad representation of Korean people.

    Also, like you said about the kimono thing, the author hasn’t done much research into the culture so she gets a few things wrong.
    For example: Park’s name…Park is always a family name, never a first name.
    I haven’t read the book personally, but after reading so many ‘bad’ reviews I honestly don’t think I will read it.

    I enjoyed your review of this book! I liked the pros and cons and your rating of the book! 🙂

    • Idaira May 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

      Oh, really? The reviews I’ve read so far has been good… too good xD I should research more. What else are they saying?
      And you are right. I forgot to mention that Park was a family name, not a name. That also pissed me off… I’ll edit my review to include that ^^
      I’m really glad you liked my review. I hope to hear from you again 🙂

      • ChibiDani May 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

        I guess it has a lot of mixed reviews on Tumblr because people take everything too far on that website and will find fault in anything. From what I’ve read people are just unhappy with the way Park is portrayed but I haven’t really read any comments about the character Eleanor. I don’t know if that is good or bad!

      • Idaira May 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

        After reading some reviews, I think… Well, I’m not sure what I think xD But people really are taking it too far, but there is also more into it than I thought. I don¡t know why I read it so lightly… I think it’s more ignorance than racism, though and, as I said, lack of information due to the simple writing style of the author. I will read it again if I can, paying more attention this time. I’ll read it in English. I think the Spanish version got lost in translation…

        By the way, do you know any book with a similar plot? I mean, about Asians or half Asians dealing with their lives in another country? I would like to read more about it…

      • ChibiDani May 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

        I haven’t I’m afraid! This is the first book I’ve seen where it deals with a Korean person living in a different country.

        There will be books about this topic but they are probably all in Korean!

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