#1 New York Times Best Seller!
"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 New York Times Best Seller!
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
About the Author
RAINBOW ROWELL lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of Landline, Fangirl and Attachments.
Read an Excerpt
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 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
Reading Group Guide
Eleanor says she and Park are too young for true love. Do you believe that? Do you think Eleanor believes that?
How do Eleanor and Park's parents shape their outlook on relationships and the future?
Is Eleanor's mother a good mother? Why does she stay with Richie?
Why does Park's mother change her mind about Eleanor?
How is Park's relationship with his mother different from his relationship with his father? Who sees Park more clearly, his father or his mother? Why is Park embarrassed by Eleanor? Is his embarrassment a betrayal?
Steve says that he's Park's friend is he a true friend? Are Steve and Tina good guys or bad guys in the story? Do you think Eleanor and Tina could ever be friends?
How would Eleanor and Park's relationship be different in 2013? How would cell phones, digital music, and Internet access change their situation?
What is the importance of music in Park's life? And how is it different for Eleanor?
Was Eleanor right to run away?
Should she have left her brothers and sister behind? Was there more she could have done to help them?
Why doesn't Eleanor open Park's letters?
What do you think the postcard from Eleanor says? What do you think it means that she sent it?
Do you think that Eleanor and Park have a happy ending?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
Know what? Forget it. I can't do this book justice with just 3385 characters remaining. It's inevitably impossible.
I didn't want it to end.
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.
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!**
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.
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%.
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!
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...
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.
It was WAY better than what I expected.
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.
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.
So I purchased this book a few months ago after seeing so many people talk about it on tumblr and instagram. I had it on my dresser in my room and constantly took it with me on trips, but I never actually opened it until last week when I was working a double shift at my job and had time to read it when work was slow. Honestly, I have no idea how I lived without reading it. I became so hooked so fast that I was actually in shock with myself. It takes a lot, and I mean A LOT, for me to start reading a book and stick to it. If it's not good, I stop within the first 20 pages or so. With Eleanor & Park, I chose reading it over sleep, even if I had school the next day. It took me less than a week to finish it and I wish it took me longer because I'm not ready to part with it yet. I became so connected to the characters that I actually held the book to my chest and hugged it after reading the last page (I read another review on here and realized someone else did the same, how could you not?) If you haven't read this or have been considering, then read it. Buy it and read it and fall in love with it and every detail and quote it has. This was better than some other famous teen novels I have read and I would not change one thing about it. I pray a continuation is written because I need more from the characters I fell in love with. I love this book more than anything, and I'm sure anyone else who has read it would say the same.
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.
Oh my god Made me tear up Fell in love from page 1 Broke my heart on last page Park Eleanor Forever
When I heard about this unconventional love story between two not necessarily attractive people, I knew i had to read it. I really loved the story, and the character development and relationship progress were both perfectly paced. The only thing that left me unsatisfied was the ending. There's no closure. You don't know if they will ever see each other again, you don't even know what happened with Eleanor's family. The ending is very sudden and unfulfilling, and for that, I cannot give this book 5 stars.
It was this blurb that had me anxious to read Eleanor & Park: 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. It was the banter between these two that I found intriguing. Plus, I am a product of the eighties...if I thought I could get away with it, I would probably still where my hair in some ridiculous angular cut. Okay, not really but you will still find me lovingly listening to "new wave" music while I clean my house. Anyway, what I'm saying is the book seamed like something I would like. I was wrong. This book is something that I loved. When I read on my ereader, I highlight all the bits I want to remember for when I write my review. There are usually a handful. If you peak at my Eleanor & Park file there is yellow all over the place. There is so much good stuff here, it has it all. Eleanor has a rough life and that is putting it mildly. After a year of couch surfing she's brought back home to live with her mother, her four younger siblings and her creeper stepfather. She has to share a room with all her brothers and sisters, there is no door on the bathroom, almost all of her possessions were thrown out while she was gone and her mother can't even remember to buy Eleanor her own toothbrush. To say she is an awkward outcast with fluffy red hair and a ridiculous wardrobe would be an understatement. Park is the only (half) Asian kid in the area. He's not sure where he fits in and no one else really seems to know either. He's not a pariah at school but he is somewhat on the outskirts of the 'in crowd' and is careful to not be completely pushed to the outer limits. This unlikely pair is forced to sit together on the bus but don't talk or acknowledge each other for weeks. Yet a relationship, a bond, forms between them that is undeniable and utterly heart oozing sweet. When they first interact and become more than two strangers simultaneously riding a bus, watch out because all the warm fuzzies will be spreading from your ears to your toes. The first hand holding is to die for cute. As the relationship develops, so do the insecurities that Eleanor and Park both harbor and so do the secrets of Eleanor's home life and struggle with girls at school. It is the love that these two feel for each other that carry them through each day and living without each other becomes something of an impossibility. The exchanges between these two is nothing less than adorable and their inner monologues are even better. This started out as such a quirky and fun story, I often found myself giggling aloud. As the story became more intimate and serious, it began to tug at my heart and with one absolute 'mom moment', I was reduced to tears. Not something I do regularly with books. I won't lie and tell you this a super feel good HEA type of book. It has many super feel good moments but the crux of the story is more profound and questions the power of love - what it makes you do - and what you are willing to give up to hold on to it. Now, I have recently berated a book for having an untidy ending. Eleanor & Park's ending leaves a lot to the imagination as well. But, I think this ending works and I'll explain why. First, this is a standalone book. I have not invested hours upon hours developing deep emotions for the story, nor have I spent years waiting and wondering what is going to happen next and how it is going to end. Second, these are teens experiencing their first love, the kind of love that your heart hurts when you are away from the person for an hour. The type of love that stays with you in your heart forever, even if the relationship itself doesn't last. When you're young you think everything will last forever and always be as perfect as it is now. It's not reality. Life gets in the way, growth gets in the way. In my head, this ending was reminiscent of that sort of love and it was quite fitting. Others may not agree. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a first love, somewhat coming of age type story or someone like me who loves the nostalgic feelings that can't help but surface when reading about young love in the age of your own teen years.
I was expecting a lot more from it. Throughout the whole book there wasnt much og a buikding up of conflict...and there wasnt much of a plot whatsoever. Got very bored...
Audiobook Review: Wow. Now THAT was an emotional, heartfelt, strong and powerful story. One that I'm still reeling from long after I've finished. I decided on the audio for this after hearing so many great reviews and seeing that there were two narrators. Since I'm fairly new to audios, this was my first story with two narrators. I loved the idea of one for Eleanor and another for Park. And man, getting the audio version was definitely the right choice. It was amazing. These two characters are intensely realistic. Eleanor, a larger girl with crazy red hair, who often wore mens hand-me-downs, was completely misunderstood and often picked on. Park, who was half Korean and had a pretty strict father, came from a "white picket fence" type of home and fit in with the popular kids easily. Though they both had their problems, they were complete opposites. Eleanor came from a complete poverty-ridden home with an abusive stepfather. Park, on the other hand, is blessed with loving parents and a good home... yet he's feels as though his father is never happy with the decisions he makes and is always looking for more. Both have their own issues and stresses to work through... both doing the best they can with the hand they're dealt. These two opposites by chance end up sitting next to each other on a bus to and from school. Park at first completely ignores the weird, new girl since talking to her would be social suicide. Eleanor hates everyone (a result of a lifetime of being bullied) so she has no problem ignoring him and his pretty green eyes just as easily. Though their relationship starts off completely silently, Park begins communicating with Eleanor through mixed tapes and comic books, and thus their friendship is begun. I can see where some may see this story as boring. But I have to say, if you can relate to these characters AT ALL, this story packs a punch. Eleanor is so reserved and snarky, yet you can totally see why when you learn more about her life. Park seems to fall for Eleanor quickly, but throughout his scenes you can actually feel his feelings for her developing. I definitely think the audio is the way to go with this one. The narrators were impeccable, both of them. Absolutely perfect. I honestly can't find a single thing to complain about. I could go on and on about how amazing it is, so I'll force myself to stop now. This story reminded me a lot of Juno. It was, simply put, REAL. If you're a lover of contemporary YA and you're looking for a sweet yet emotional, sappy yet harsh story, this is a must-read! And get the audio! :)
This book is utterly amazing. I almost have no words. I have read this book 3 times and have recommended it to all of my friends, in which now they have read it multiple times. This book has played a huge part in my life, from the music to the words to the characters. The only problem about this book is that I need to stop basing all my crushes off Park or I will never get a boyfriend. Park is just to perfect and I can't find anyone like him.
This heartbreaking teen romance novel is about the rise, fall, and the bumps in the road of the two misfit high school students Eleanor and Park. Eleanor has grown up in a life of hardships, her father left her and her family for the woman next door, her step dad Richie is abusive, she has little to no money, and she is seen as ugly to most. However, Park is has grown up in a nice home with his brother and parents on a life of privilege, he is just an average teen boy, and he keeps his social status above an outcast due to a former relationship with the schools most popular girl, Tina. It all starts with one morning on the school bus. Eleanor is new to the school and cannot find a seat open on the school bus, due to the other students seeing her as weird and ugly, and Park notices her embarrassment, allowing her to sit with him. They do not talk to each other in the beginning, but they soon bond over their love of music and comic books. Eleanor and Park become officially boyfriend and girlfriend after Park gets annoyed with everyone bullying Eleanor, and he gets into a fight with Steve. After this their relationship grows even stronger even though they know it won’t work forever. I think this book would be good for anyone who likes to read about breathtaking and heartbreaking unexpected romance, or just anyone who wants to get caught up in a good book. I think the theme of this book would be that love isn’t always easy, but it is still beautiful.
This is amazing and outstanding. I am blown away by the writing quality and the quality in the book over all. This book is my favorite book over all because of the heartwarming concept and meaning also the relationship between eleanor and park is just so powerful and breathtakingly romantic and heartwarming. I recommend this book to people who love romance (ages 11- 15) Enjoy, and thank you rainbow rowell for you brilliant writing and ideas for this bestseller and much loved book!!!
Honestly God Bless trying to get through this book without squealing like a little girl or blushing when cute stuff happens. its such a sweet, innocent and unexpected romance that the ending makes you wanna get on a bus and not get off until you meet an asian boy with good music taste or a ginger haired girl with good music taste. by far one of my fave YA books.