Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | Review

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I first read this book about a year ago but after having just recently re-read it, I feel as though I’ve read it with a whole new set of eyes. The first time I read it, I gave it 4 stars but the second time I read it, I gave it 2.5 stars. It’s safe to say that I feel pretty conflicted about this book and I know that a lot of people love this one, but I just found a lot of problems with it. I don’t know whether I’m just being overly cynical but the characters and the relationships and the scenarios just seemed so fake and unrealistic that I couldn’t take anything seriously. I did enjoy the humour in this book and I also really loved to hate the ‘villain’ of Eleanor’s step-dad Richie. But overall? Not really that great…

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

I did relate to the main character of Eleanor quite a bit but I did find her slightly annoying at times. I’m probably thinking too highly of myself again, but why would Eleanor let her family live in the conditions that they were living in? Why didn’t she tell someone what was happening? Why didn’t she at least try to knock some sense into her mother? I also found Park to be a really bland character with literally nothing going for him. I did enjoy the fact that we were seeing some diversity in Park’s nationality and all the conversations around that were very interesting, but apart from that, I really didn’t like Park. Richie was a really complex and pretty evil character and I really liked how he drove the story forward.

In terms of plot, there wasn’t really a lot. Even though the book is quite short and looks a lot shorter because of the short chapters it dragged on a little for me. I found myself losing interest and feeling very bored. I also found the scenarios and situations to feel very unrealistic and childish and I know that Eleanor and Park were only young teens, but I couldn’t imagine any of it really happening. The pace felt very slow and I really had to push myself to finish this book. I also don’t know how I feel about Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. I really liked Fangirl, but I didn’t like this at all. Maybe I just have to pick and choose with Rainbow Rowell?

Overall, this was very meh. I don’t think this book was for me a which is shame because I usually adore a good romance. But for me, the romance in this was the worst part. It felt cheesy and forced and really unrealistic, and I don’t even think I’ll be keeping this book. Sorry…

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