Eleanor and Park

Back in October, I wrote a review of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachements, mostly focusing on how sweet and charming I thought it was. Based on that, I assumed that I would like her new novel, Eleanor and Park, as well. I was not prepared for how much I LOVED this book. People, you have all got to go read Eleanor and Park.
Here is a short list of the things about this book that were awesome:
  • It’s a love story between two misfits (that’s Eleanor and Park), and for once the misfits actually seem like they don’t fit in. Eleanor is not a nerdy girl who takes her glasses off and then she’s a model–she (and, in his own way, Park) are truly complicated people who struggle to blend in and relate.
  • The portrayal of high school life–with it’s tentative and ever-shifting alliances–is as on-point as I’ve ever read.
  • The point of view alternates between Eleanor and Park, and both of their voices are so distinct and clear–it felt like I got to know two different people. I also love it when a book gives me an insight into teenage boys, and Park is a really stunning character.
  • It’s set in the 90s, so if you’re old like me, it will bring back fun memories. (They listen to the Smiths on a Walkman–raise your hand with me if you also did that!)
  • It made me cry on an airplane, but also made me so happy that I am planning to buy my own copy so I can read it whenever I want.
My library classified this as YA and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to teens, but it’s complex enough that I might consider it an adult book.

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Better than words.

You might also like: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (read the book, then see the movie–they’re both good)


I’ve mentioned Linda Holmes of NPR and the fabulous Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast here before–both the blog and the podcast are wonderful places to hear intelligent talk about movies, TV, music, other podcasts, and all sorts of other good pop culture-y things. I wouldn’t have said that they talked about books that much, but I’ve gotten a couple of good recommendations from them lately. Gone Girl was something I was probably going to read anyway, and their recommendation just encouraged me, but I would never have found Attachments without Linda’s recommendation on a recent episode, so I am passing it along.

Written by Rainbow Rowell (who has maybe the best author name ever), it’s the story of a guy working in IT at a small-town newspaper during late 1999. His job is to read the employee emails that have been flagged as inappropriate content and issue warnings to the employees, but he finds himself so interested in the emails that two women at the paper are exchanging that he can’t bear to stop them. In fact, he finds himself falling in love with one of them–but can anything ever come of a relationship with such a beginning?

Does that make the book sound creepy? It’s not at all, it’s sweet! The main character knows he’s in a potentially creepy situation and spends a lot of the book trying to figure out how to make it less so. And the emails between the two women are fun, and give the book a very epistolary feeling. Plus, all the references to Y2K are sort of charmingly retro. Remember when were so worried about that? Remember when email was so new and fun? I would describe this book as light, but thoughtful–it’s a sweet romance, but the lives of the people involved feel very real and important.

So at this point, I’ve got a 100% satisfaction record with Pop Culture Happy Hour recommendations and I will do whatever they tell me to do. (But even they can’t make me read comic books.)