Update: As I predicted when I originally wrote this review, Eleanor and Park has officially joined the hallowed hall of banned and challenged books! It was the tenth most banned/challenged book in 2016, according to the American Library Association. This post has been updated accordingly!
Genre: Romance, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor. Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”
Review: Given that Rainbow Rowell is quite often grouped in with authors like John Green and Jay Asher, I was excited to finally get around to reading one of her books. Overall, however, I think I differ from the general masses when I say that Eleanor and Park was a pretty average book. I think Rowell did an excellent job in the character development department, not only with Eleanor and Park but also with supporting characters, like Park’s parents and Eleanor’s siblings. I also felt like Rowell paced the developing relationship and romance between the titular characters very well. When Park first tells Eleanor he loves her, it didn’t come off a big shock or feel like it was inappropriately timed given the scope of their relationships. For me, I think the three-star rating comes down to the fact that there just wasn’t any wow factor. All in all, Eleanor and Park is a fast and enjoyable read but I don’t feel emotionally invested in this book. From what I’ve read, however, Eleanor and Park is not Rowell’s best book (according to her fans, that honor would go to Fangirl). For that reason, I am looking forward to reading some of her other works. On a side note, I have currently classified Eleanor and Park as a “Bonus Book.” However, given that certain parents of students at Anoka High School attempted (and failed) to have this book removed from the school library on the basis of “vile profanity”, I bet Eleanor and Park will make an appearance on upcoming American Library Association banned/challenged book lists.
Reason for Ban/Challenge: Eleanor and Park has been banned and challenged in a number of high schools and libraries due to offensive language and “general inappropriateness.”