Tag Archives: Rainbow Rowell

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

11th April 2013



He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.

Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.

And Eleanor disintegrated.


Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath.

Eleanor occupies the only empty seat on the bus, the one right next to Park. And as much as he doesn’t want to talk to her and risk the wrath of the kids at the back of the bus, he notices her reading his comic books…so he opens them wider and positions them so she can read them more easily. And then there’s a moment when everything changes, and Rowell captures that sweet but completely painful feeling of a first love.

When I first read the passage above, after a slow buildup like you wouldn’t imagine, I disintegrated. I was instantly brought back to my first hand holding, on a school bus, on the way back from a band trip. Like the Cool Water cologne the guy wore that can instantly transport me to the nervous, exhilarated, alive 15-year-old I was, Eleanor & Park made me remember that moment with endearment and nostalgia.

Everything matters in high school, to high schoolers. Each moment is a first or a last, and Rainbow Rowell depicts the intensity of these moments with vibrancy and beauty. Eleanor is the new girl at a new school. She sticks out badly in her Goodwill jeans and sneakers and considers asking her school counselor for a toothbrush. The only thing holding her back is the imminent call to CPS. Plus, she’s overweight with bright red hair. And home sucks. Her mother’s husband – she refuses to acknowledge him as any relation to her – sets her on edge. She only showers or goes to the bathroom when he’s out or fast asleep, uncomfortable around him, mature yet unable to vocalize or fully articulate exactly why he upsets her so completely. The threat of harm hums, and Rowell doesn’t shy away from the quiet terror of an abusive home. Then Eleanor goes to school where she gets picked on, but really, that’s the least of her worries.

Park, on the other hand, comes from a loving home and parents who are fierce in their love and belief in their son. He may screw up, but even as Park and his dad struggle to understand one another, there is never a doubt that this is a father who supports his son. Sure, Park has problems, such as being the only part Korean kid at school, but his parents kissing in front of him is the biggest issue he deals with at home. And he finds himself inextricably drawn to Eleanor. He isn’t necessarily attracted to her, but she does fascinate him. She wears crazy accessories – a necktie around her ponytail, gaudy hairpieces – and he wonders why she’d want any extra attention, the death knell for a teen as different as Eleanor.

Set in the 80s, when a mixed tape could convey more than any love note, Rainbow Rowell writes a love story for the misfits, a story about the imperfect guys and gals, the kind who loved Star Trek and The Smiths, the type who weren’t blonde, thin, and perky but who loved just as hard and fast. And watching these two make their way toward one another, finding one another for the first time is, as John Green* said, “delicious.”

Add Eleanor & Park to your Goodreads shelf.

*I read this book the week it came out but haven’t blogged about it because I read John Green’s review and thought: That. That’s what I want to say. If you haven’t checked it out, head on over.

Reading the old year out…

31st December 2011

And I must say, I’m not at all sad to see the back end of 2011. It was a very tumultuous year, and I am very happy to be ringing in a new year this evening with a mini-readathon cooked up by two other bloggers (Becky and Tasha) and myself. There will be champagne, so in the infinite wisdom and singing voice of Bing Crosby, let’s start the new year right.

But. Before we get to that, I wanted to do a year end post. As of midnight on December 30, I have read 121 books. Of these, 46 were written by men and 75 written by women (wow!); 109 fiction and 12 nonfiction. This year I read 9 audiobooks, and considering I read none last year, that’s quite a jump. Also, just so you can see my habits, 42 of these books came from the publisher/author/publicist, but I bought 52 and checked out 26 from the library, a pretty decent statistic. Now down to brass tacks….

Least favorite books of the year: Let’s just get this one out of the way. I only really disliked two books this year, and if you’ve been around for a bit, you can probably guess the first one: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The other I just finished this morning: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron. I’ll put up a review next week with details. Suffice it to say, memoirs are tricky.

Best New-to-Me Series: Well, obviously I love the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver books, but seeing as they were written in the last century, I won’t call them new. If you’re looking for a vintage mystery, give these a go. Also consider joining me for Miss Silver Saturdays through 2012.

Best New Series: I just finished Discovery of Witches and am pretty much in love with it. I can’t wait for the next one. Many compare it to Twilight, but for me, it was much more reminiscent of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it!

Funniest Book: Hands down, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. In fact, this is a book that I plan to re-read soon, I liked it that much. Definitely keep an eye out for debut author Matt Norman.

Best Dark Comedy: Funny Man by John Warner. I’m really surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention, as I think it’s pretty genius in a lot of ways. I’m really eager to see what else Warner writes.

Book that Made Me Think Rainbow Rowell stole my life and wrote about it: Attachments. Runner up for funniest book of the year, it was just so perfectly me. Sadly, many other bloggers have said the same thing, so obviously I ain’t anything special. Distinctive? Pshaw.

Book That Seriously Creeped Me Out and Blew My Mind: The Magus by John Fowles. Review next week, and boy howdy, what a book. Thanks so much to Sean at Read Heavily for the gift.

Best Middle Grade Book: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Absolute fun and super smart. Reminds me of books written when I was young.

Book that Made Me Cry: Thankfully there were only two of these this year (one sparked this post about crying in reading). The other is A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. This is nonfiction and about the women of the French Resistance. It’s incredibly moving to see just how much the human spirit can endure.

Most Beautiful Book: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. This is physically just a beautiful, beautiful specimen of a book. The cover art, the inside art, the paper. It’s technically the biography of a woman artist, but it’s so much more than that.

Biggest Surprise: Ian Fleming’s Bond series. Yes, he can be a misogynistic, slightly-racist ass, but damn, these books are good. If you think you know Bond from the films, think again and join Lit Housewife’s Shaken Not Stirred challenge. You won’t be disappointed.

~and last but not least~

Best Book of 2011: Galore by Michael Crummey. I read this book in April, but it will not leave me. The story is timeless, the writing superb. If you haven’t read it, make sure you add it to your list for the new year. I compare it to East of Eden by Steinbeck and House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my favorite passages from the book is below:

~Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

So that’s my list. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope to see you back here. Thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing, etc. I so enjoy your company.

And on that note, what was your favorite book this year?

In Which Rainbow Rowell Says Everything I Want to About Breaking Dawn…But Better

21st November 2011

Picture by Rainbow Rowell's husband

I wanted to write a post about seeing Breaking Dawn Part I. Then I read author Rainbow Rowell’s post, and it was almost word-for-word* what I wanted to say (almost scarily so), except exchange Transformers for Power Rangers in her discussion of the wolf scene.


So…. go here. Enjoy.


* Except she left out the awfulness that was SM’s cameo. I mean, truly.

Why She’s My Best Friend…

17th September 2011

Today I get home after a long day, only to hear this on my cell phone voicemail:

“Ok listen to this:

<<Jennifer to Beth>> I think I’m pregnant.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> What? Why do you think you’re pregnant?

<<Jennifer to Beth>> I had three drinks last Saturday.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> I think we need to have a little talk about the birds and the bees. That’s not exactly how it happens.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> Whenever I have too much to drink, I start to feel pregnant. I think it’s because I never drink, and it would just figure that the one time I decide to loosen up, I get preg- nant. Three hours of weakness, and now I’m going to spend the rest of my life wrestling with the special needs of a fetal alcoholic.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> I don’t think they call them that.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> Its little eyes will be too far apart, and everyone will look at me in the grocery store and whisper, “Look at that horrible lush. She couldn’t part with her Zima for nine months. It’s tragic.”

<<Beth to Jennifer>> You drink Zima?

Ok. Is that not you and me, or what? I’ve only read Chapter One, and I’m cracking up. This little Chapter One reminded me of you and me so much. Thanks for giving me the name of this book. I got it through Inter-Library Loan. By the way, this is Sommer, your best friend.”

And yes, she said: Beth to Jennifer, Jennifer to Beth. And then laughed. A lot. I mean, who wouldn’t love a best friend like that? 🙂

And, which book is she referencing? Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.



Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8th August 2011

*I got this book from my library after reading about it on nearly every blog for the last several months.

My best friend Sommer is so funny – I mean she has me literally laughing out loud all over the place when we talk. And thankfully, she loves to read. However, she’s a bit more in to romance, and if you’ve been around for a while, you know my former issues and newfound love of an occasional romance. So when Sommer asked me this weekend for a really good book recommendation, I knew exactly what to tell her:  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It is far from a romance novel; however, it is a great book with elements of romance:

The people in Lincoln’s life think he is a bit of a dud. He’s 28, plays Dungeons & Dragons, and lives at home with mom, a fact his sister Eve can’t get over. But Lincoln is stuck. He had his heart broken young, and he just doesn’t quite know how to date or when to find the time. He spends his nights working for the local newspaper as an Internet security guy in 1999, building up to Y2K. In 1999, Lincoln was the guy everyone feared. When email gets flagged for words like “naked” or “menstruation,” Lincoln has to read the emails and send warnings to the offenders. It’s a cush job, but Lincoln feels badly about it, especially when Beth (a movie reviewer) and Jennifer (a copyeditor) get flagged. The two friends are not doing anything harmful; they just talk about their lives, and slowly, Lincoln gets hooked – especially by Beth – and latches onto the friendship in a way only a lonely, D&D-playing guy can.

I cannot quite tell you how much I really loved this book. Perhaps it’s because the romance is subtle and sweet. Or maybe it’s because the epistolary style of the emails, which can be so difficult to pull off, grabbed me just like it did Lincoln. Or maybe, as Jo says in her review, it’s because I liked Jennifer and Beth so much. Beth was a child of the 90s like I am, and there are some great pop culture references. Plus, the emails are funny and heartwarming, and the friends reminded me very much of my best friends, several of whom I met on the job.

All in all, Attachments was a purely enjoyable read; it’s funny, quirky, and I loved it.

Read this: in a bubble bath or with a glass of wine at your side.

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