Eleanor & Park

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.”—John Green, The New York Times Book Review

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.

A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.

A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2013

A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013

A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013

An NPR Best Book of 2013

A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Winner of the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - John Green
…I have never seen anything quite like Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell's first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story…Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading…Evocative sensual descriptions are everywhere in this novel, but they always feel true to the characters…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.
Publishers Weekly
Half-Korean sophomore Park Sheridan is getting through high school by lying low, listening to the Smiths (it’s 1986), reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen comics, never raising his hand in class, and avoiding the kids he grew up with. Then new girl Eleanor gets on the bus. Tall, with bright red hair and a dress code all her own, she’s an instant target. Too nice not to let her sit next to him, Park is alternately resentful and guilty for not being kinder to her. When he realizes she’s reading his comics over his shoulder, a silent friendship is born. And slowly, tantalizingly, something more. Adult author Rowell (Attachments), making her YA debut, has a gift for showing what Eleanor and Park, who tell the story in alternating segments, like and admire about each other. Their love is believable and thrilling, but it isn’t simple: Eleanor’s family is broke, and her stepfather abuses her mother. 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. Ages 13–up. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution maintains the novel’s delicate balance of light and dark.”

Booklist (starred review)

“The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship Eleanor and Park develop is urgent and breathtaking and, of course, heartbreaking, too.”

Eleanor & Park is a breathless, achingly good read about love and outsiders.”

—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door

“Sweet, gritty, and affecting . . . Rainbow Rowell has written an unforgettable story about two misfits in love. This debut will find its way into your heart and stay there.”

—Courtney Summers, author of This Is Not a Test and Cracked Up to Be

“In her rare and surprising exploration of young misfit love, Rowell shows us the beauty in the broken.”

—Stewart Lewis, author of You Have Seven Messages

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy, and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution maintains the novel’s delicate balance of light and dark.”

Booklist (starred review)
“The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship Eleanor and Park develop is urgent and breathtaking and, of course, heartbreaking, too.”

Eleanor & Park is a breathless, achingly good read about love and outsiders.”
—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door

“Sweet, gritty, and affecting . . . Rainbow Rowell has written an unforgettable story about two misfits in love. This debut will find its way into your heart and stay there.”
—Courtney Summers, author of This Is Not a Test and Cracked Up to Be

“In her rare and surprising exploration of young misfit love, Rowell shows us the beauty in the broken.”
—Stewart Lewis, author of You Have Seven Messages

VOYA - Deborah Wenk
Park sees the new girl at the front of the bus and fills the empty seat next to him with his books. She eventually ends up sitting next to him anyway, after the vicious pack at the back of the bus targets her for their pointed remarks. As the days go by, he notices her reading the comics on his lap--they tentatively ease into conversation which, in time, leads to discovering feelings for each other. Eleanor's home life is wretched. She shares a room with her four siblings and the bathroom is in the kitchen with no wall or door. Richie, her mother’s abusive, alcoholic husband, had kicked Eleanor out of the house the previous year. She has been allowed to return to the family but has to stay under the radar. This is a sweet, touching story of first love. Told from both perspectives, the story’s emphasis rests with Eleanor--how she keeps within herself at home but allows Park in as she learns to trust him. Being with Park is Eleanor’s only sanctuary yet he is more lyrical when describing their relationship. When he holds her hand, he says it is “like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like something complete, and completely alive.” When Richie’s twisted malevolence toward Eleanor reaches a boiling point, Eleanor knows she has to leave. Can Park let her go? The bittersweet ending hints at hope for two characters who readers will have come to care about. This is a stunning debut from a promising new author. Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Awkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha. Eleanor and Park don't meet cute; they meet vexed on the school bus, trapped into sitting together by a dearth of seats and their low social status. Park, the only half-Korean fan of punk and New Wave at their high school, is by no means popular, but he benefits from his family's deep roots in their lower-middle-class neighborhood. Meanwhile, Eleanor's wildly curly red mane and plus-sized frame would make her stand out even if she weren't a new student, having just returned to her family after a year of couch-surfing following being thrown out by her odious drunkard of a stepfather, Richie. Although both teens want only to fade into the background, both stand out physically and sartorially, arming themselves with band T-shirts (Park) and menswear from thrift stores (Eleanor). Despite Eleanor's resolve not to grow attached to anything, and despite their shared hatred for clichés, they fall, by degrees, in love. Through Eleanor and Park's alternating voices, readers glimpse the swoon-inducing, often hilarious aspects of first love, as well as the contrast between Eleanor's survival of grim, abuse-plagued poverty and Park's own imperfect but loving family life. Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In this novel set in the 1980s, teenagers Eleanor and Park are outsiders; Eleanor, because she's new to the neighborhood, and Park, because he's half Asian. Although initially wary of each other, they quickly bond over their love of comics and 1980s alternative music. Eleanor's home life is difficult; her stepfather physically abuses her mother and emotionally abuses Eleanor and her siblings. At school, she is the victim of bullying, which escalates into defacement of her textbooks, her clothes, and crude displays on her locker. Although Park's mother, a Korean immigrant, is initially resistant to the strange girl due to her odd fashion choices, his father invites Eleanor to seek temporary refuge with them from her unstable home life. When Eleanor's stepfather's behavior grows even more menacing, Park assists in her escape, even though it means that they might not see each other again. The friendship between the teens is movingly believable, but the love relationship seems a bit rushed and underdeveloped. The revelation about the person behind the defacement of Eleanor's textbooks is stunning. Although the narrative points of view alternate between Eleanor and Park, the transitions are smooth. Crude language is realistic. Purchase for readers who are drawn to quirky love stories or 1980s pop culture.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250012579
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 577
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Rainbow Rowell

RAINBOW ROWELL lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of Landline, Fangirl and Attachments.

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Read an Excerpt

1

park

  

XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.

Park pressed his headphones into his ears.

Tomorrow he was going to bring Skinny Puppy or the Misfits. Or maybe he’d make a special bus tape with as much screaming and wailing on it as possible.

He could get back to New Wave in November, after he got his driver’s license. His parents had already said Park could have his mom’s Impala, and he’d been saving up for a new tape deck. Once he started driving to school, he could listen to whatever he wanted or nothing at all, and he’d get to sleep in an extra twenty minutes.

“That doesn’t exist!” somebody shouted behind him.

“It so fucking does!” Steve shouted back. “Drunken Monkey style, man, it’s a real fucking thing. You can kill somebody with it.…”

“You’re full of shit.”

You’re full of shit,” Steve said. “Park! Hey, Park.”

Park heard him, but didn’t answer. Sometimes, if you ignored Steve for a minute, he moved on to someone else. Knowing that was 80 percent of surviving with Steve as your neighbor. The other 20 percent was just keeping your head down.…

Which Park had momentarily forgotten. A ball of paper hit him in the back of the head.

“Those were my Human Growth and Development notes, dicklick,” Tina said.

“I’m sorry, baby,” Steve said. “I’ll teach you all about human growth and development—what do you need to know?”

“Teach her Drunken Monkey style,” somebody said.

“Park!” Steve shouted.

Park pulled down his headphones and turned to the back of the bus. Steve was holding court in the last seat. Even sitting, his head practically touched the roof. Steve always looked like he was surrounded by doll furniture. He’d looked like a grown man since the seventh grade, and that was before he grew a full beard. Slightly before.

Sometimes Park wondered if Steve was with Tina because she made him look even more like a monster. Most of the girls from the Flats were small, but Tina couldn’t be five feet. Massive hair included.

Once, back in middle school, some guy had tried to give Steve shit about how he better not get Tina pregnant because if he did, his giant babies would kill her. “They’ll bust out of her stomach like in Aliens,” the guy said. Steve broke his little finger on the guy’s face.

When Park’s dad heard, he said, “Somebody needs to teach that Murphy kid how to make a fist.” But Park hoped nobody would. The guy who Steve hit couldn’t open his eyes for a week.

Park tossed Tina her balled-up homework. She caught it.

“Park,” Steve said, “tell Mikey about Drunken Monkey karate.”

“I don’t know anything about it.” Park shrugged.

“But it exists, right?”

“I guess I’ve heard of it.”

“There,” Steve said. He looked for something to throw at Mikey, but couldn’t find anything. He pointed instead. “I fucking told you.”

“What the fuck does Sheridan know about kung fu?” Mikey said.

“Are you retarded?” Steve said. “His mom’s Chinese.”

Mikey looked at Park carefully. Park smiled and narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, I guess I see it,” Mikey said. “I always thought you were Mexican.”

“Shit, Mikey,” Steve said, “you’re such a fucking racist.”

“She’s not Chinese,” Tina said. “She’s Korean.”

“Who is?” Steve asked.

“Park’s mom.”

Park’s mom had been cutting Tina’s hair since grade school. They both had the exact same hairstyle: long spiral perms with tall feathered bangs.

“She’s fucking hot is what she is,” Steve said, cracking himself up. “No offense, Park.”

Park managed another smile and slunk back into his seat, putting his headphones back on and cranking up the volume. He could still hear Steve and Mikey, four seats behind him.

“But what’s the fucking point?” Mikey asked.

“Dude, would you want to fight a drunk monkey? They’re fucking huge. Like Every Which Way But Loose, man. Imagine that bastard losing his shit on you.”

Park noticed the new girl at about the same time everybody else did. She was standing at the front of the bus, next to the first available seat.

There was a kid sitting there by himself, a freshman. He put his bag down on the seat beside him, then looked the other way. All down the aisle, anybody who was sitting alone moved to the edge of their seats. Park heard Tina snicker; she lived for this stuff.

The new girl took a deep breath and stepped farther down the aisle. Nobody would look at her. Park tried not to, but it was kind of a train wreck/eclipse situation.

The girl just looked like exactly the sort of person this would happen to.

Not just new—but big and awkward. With crazy hair, bright red on top of curly. And she was dressed like … like she wanted people to look at her. Or maybe like she didn’t get what a mess she was. She had on a plaid shirt, a man’s shirt, with half a dozen weird necklaces hanging around her neck and scarves wrapped around her wrists. She reminded Park of a scarecrow or one of the trouble dolls his mom kept on her dresser. Like something that wouldn’t survive in the wild.

The bus stopped again, and a bunch more kids got on. They pushed past the girl, knocking into her, and dropped into their own seats.

That was the thing—everybody on the bus already had a seat. They’d all claimed one on the first day of school. People like Park, who were lucky enough to have a whole seat to themselves, weren’t going to give that up now. Especially not for someone like this.

Park looked back up at the girl. She was just standing there.

“Hey, you,” the bus driver yelled, “sit down!”

The girl started moving toward the back of the bus. Right into the belly of the beast. God, Park thought, stop. Turn around. He could feel Steve and Mikey licking their chops as she got closer. He tried again to look away.

Then the girl spotted an empty seat just across from Park. Her face lit with relief, and she hurried toward it.

“Hey,” Tina said sharply.

The girl kept moving.

“Hey,” Tina said, “Bozo.”

Steve started laughing. His friends fell in a few seconds behind him.

“You can’t sit there,” Tina said. “That’s Mikayla’s seat.”

The girl stopped and looked up at Tina, then looked back at the empty seat.

“Sit down,” the driver bellowed from the front.

“I have to sit somewhere,” the girl said to Tina in a firm, calm voice.

“Not my problem,” Tina snapped. The bus lurched, and the girl rocked back to keep from falling. Park tried to turn the volume up on his Walkman, but it was already all the way up. He looked back at the girl; it looked like she was starting to cry.

Before he’d even decided to do it, Park scooted toward the window.

“Sit down,” he said. It came out angrily. The girl turned to him, like she couldn’t tell whether he was another jerk or what. “Jesus-fuck,” Park said softly, nodding to the space next to him, “just sit down.

The girl sat down. She didn’t say anything—thank God, she didn’t thank him—and she left six inches of space on the seat between them.

Park turned toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.

 

Copyright © 2013 by Rainbow Rowell

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 314 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(213)

4 Star

(58)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(14)

1 Star

(9)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 314 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I have no words that will do this book justice. This book is per

    I have no words that will do this book justice. This book is perfect in every way, from the imperfect and fractured characters, the 1986 setting, the mixtapes, walkmans, and lack of mobiles, to the raw emotional journey it took us through Eleanor and Park; two teenagers who can't seem to find a place that they belong to, an identity they could proudly call their own, a "someone" they could turn to for help, for love, for friendship.. until they met each other. This book is so powerful. I read it in a couple of hours and I couldn't put it down. The two POVs, switching between Eleanor and Park, gave the readers more insight on what each side is feeling, thinking, and wishing. Something we don't usually witness. These characters were layered, had flaws, faults, and a history that would bring the readers emotional pain, allow them to connect with the characters, and root for them to get together, stay together, and be whoever they wanted and needed to be. 
    Rainbow Rowell's gift in writing should not be overlooked. She was able to create such an eloquent novel from a simple setting, Eleanor and Park sitting in the bus on the same chair. That is how they met, that is when we see them together for over 100 pages.. they barely talk, they barely communicate, heck, Eleanor calls him "the stupid asian kid" while Park is just trying to pretend she doesn't exist. Eleanor isn't the stick thin girl, no she is not obese, but she still has baby fat and people make fun of her, for that and her outrageous sense of style and bright red hair. They call her "Big Red". However Eleanor ignores them, for the most part, and tries to not let them get to her. However after she and Park started talking, communicating, and getting to know each other, the bullying took a step back. Yes bullying was still a part of the novel, but me as a reader lived for the moments that Eleanor & Park met because I believed they were the most gratingly honest and through them you just couldn't help but fall in love with them. 
    The story is more than a love story, it also includes an abusive relationship, Eleanor's mother and her step father; How I loathed him. I also did not have any happy thoughts towards Eleanor's mother. She has 4 small children, excluding Eleanor, and she still stays in that abusive relationship, stays with the man that kicked Eleanor out of the house for a full year. There is honestly so much family issues and all of them are so realistic which is why they all hit me hard, because many people suffer from being tied to such abusive relationships, and children being the helpless victims to that. I have to say though, I loved Park's family, he is half korean, and his dad loves his mom, so glaringly obvious that it really gives the readers a clear contrast between both families. I would have to say that every single young adult reader must pick this book. Whether they enjoy contemporary or not, this book is not one to miss. I am definitely going to be getting and cherishing a copy when it is out. Rowell, you officially made me a die hard fan. 

    43 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    This is just...

    Know what? Forget it. I can't do this book justice with just 3385 characters remaining. It's inevitably impossible.

    21 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Aww...

    I didn't want it to end.

    17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    This book was great.

    Despite all of the swearing throught the book, it is far most my new favorite book. I spent all night reading it. I could not put it down. As a 14 year old, i consitered this a teen-friendly book.

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2013

    Meeting on the school bus where Park offers Eleanor his seat whe

    Meeting on the school bus where Park offers Eleanor his seat when no one else will give up theirs. They soon bond over comic books and music and start hanging out with each other. 


    Eleanor and Park come from two different backgrounds.

    Park for the most part is okay with who he is, he does not want a lot of attention, but he does want to be accepted.


    Eleanor’s fiery red hair matches her feisty personality. She comes from a poor family, never having enough or the things that she really needs. Her father is horrible, her mom just accepts things for the way they are and does not try to protect Eleanor and her siblings or try to make their lives better. No matter what she goes through, she hangs in there. She is a tough cookie.


    The story is told from alternating points of view, which helped to get to know Park and Eleanor better. I love stories told this way.


    What I liked:
    These two could not have been more different. I liked that even though they were; they took a chance with each other, found things in common, and shared a connection. They were friends who fell in love with each other. It was a sweet, yet emotional ride.


    Final thoughts:
    Reading Eleanor and Park brought back memories of what it was like to fall in love at a young age; the warm fuzzy feelings and the bittersweet moments as well. It is a super cute coming of age story that I instantly fell in love with.


    ** I received this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for nothing, but my honest review. Thank you!** 

    16 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Great story of friendship turned to first love

    I read this novel in one day. Very quick read, as in I just had to find out what happens to the main characters. I couldn't put the book down. At points it had me reflecting on my own first love; I found myself both smiling and crying a long with the characters. The only down fall I see with the electronic version is that there are a few grammatical errors throughout the novel. I am going to buy the real book and hoping those errors are not in the hard copy.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Ending made me so mad!

    Loved it until the ending hated it

    14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    I don't regret reading the book, it was really sweet. The only t

    I don't regret reading the book, it was really sweet. The only thing is that I wish there was more conflict. The characters were well developed, I kept hoping that something more would happen. Nothing much happened... 

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Just read it.

    A love story to defeat all love stories. This is perfection.

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    This book is absolutely perfect, there are no words to describe

    This book is absolutely perfect, there are no words to describe how perfect. I'm pretty sure I fell in love with Park. Their journey is pure genius and their love is legendary. Romance novels about young love is my favorite genre, but this hit it out of the park (no pun intended). It's very real and raw, it makes you want to believe in true love. I have nothing but good things to say about this book, I  recommend this book 100%.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    I've been afraid to read books after reading The Fault In Our St

    I've been afraid to read books after reading The Fault In Our Stars because I felt like in my eyes nothing could compare. I saw that John Green,the author or TFIOS reviewed it so I thoughts why not! I am so very happy I bought this book. In just two days I finished the book and suffered post book depression! I immediately fell in love with almost all of the characters, even Parks parents! I recommend this to anyone who wants a good teen romance novel. The book has so many cute moments in it that made me smile for what seemed like forever, and tragic moments that made me put the book against my chest as if I were hugging the characters to comfort them. I love this book and didn't want it to end at all!! Rainbow did an amazing job!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It was WAY better than what I expected.

    It was WAY better than what I expected.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    I read this based on a recommendation by one of my favorite authors, John Green, and he did not steer me wrong. It's an adorable story of young love.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    I am not sure why all the rating for this novel are above averag

    I am not sure why all the rating for this novel are above average. This book is ok, quick read not  a page turning spectacular story.  Disappointed in Barnes and Noble for promoting so many books that are just mediocre. 

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    Unsatisfying, rushed ending

    It was a great story until the end when it seems like Powell just literally gives up on the story. Disappointing!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    I only finished this book because I have a thing against startin

    I only finished this book because I have a thing against starting a book and not finishing it, but there were so many times when I wanted to throw this book at the wall. There was no conflict, there was no point, and there was no conclusion. Furthermore, I personally thought the ending was horrible and left me pissed off more than anything, and the characters were really bizarre. Boring and weird sums it up.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    READ THIS BOOK

    READ THIS BOOK. Do not worry that you find it in the YA section of the book store and you aren't young anymore. Once you were. Once you were in love for the first time. Once you felt like you didn't belong. Once you finally felt like you had found your place in the world and you messed it up royally. Once adults failed you. Once adults saved you. Once you saved yourself. Once you were completely and wholly true to yourself. Once you read a book that reminded you of all those things. At least you did if you read Eleanor & Park. Read this book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    very cute!

    a perfect summer read. I read it in a day. the book had tears rolling down my face. it brings you back to your first "love" in school.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Buy this!! Best book ever.

    This book was filled with amazing description, dialogue, plot, everything. Its not a cheesy romance; it actually depicts a realistic and believable love that just makes you delve into this sweet romance even more. Rowell did an exceptional job creating this star crossed, perfect-in-all-the-right-and-wrong-ways romace novel. I loved it and so will you.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    I wanted to love this book and I really almost did!  It initiall

    I wanted to love this book and I really almost did!  It initially started well with wonderful character development.  
    ...but then that's kind of where it just ended.  ***SPOILER ALERT***
    All of a sudden they were madly in love and nothing happened.  
    And then it was over.  And that's kind of it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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