Eleanor and Park


Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

Publishing Information: New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013
ISBN: 9781250012579

Pages: 328 p.
Ages: 14+

Annotation: 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.

Summary: Eleanor, an overweight girl from a troubled home, and Park, a biracial lover of comic books and alternative music, meet on the school bus. Social outcast and misfit may dare to fall in love, but there’s no way their love can remain private in a hostile world.

Book Trailers:    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NIuHz3RILdM


Book Talk:  There’s an empty seat beside him when she gets on the bus. Eleanor. Her crazy red hair, her lush body, and her shabby clothes are all targets that might rub off on him if she sits down. But what can he do? Stay cool, ignore her, even if she gets in the habit of taking that seat. But how long can he ignore Eleanor when the closer she gets the more alive he feels?


Subject Headings & Major Themes:   


Love stories

Dating (social customs)

High Schools





Bi-racial teens


Awards & Reviews:
2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction

2014 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book, 2013

Indies Choice Young Adult Book of the Year

Amazon’s Teen Book of the Year

Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Book of the Year

Audible’s Best Teen Audiobook of the Year

Booklist, January 1, 2013, p. 98

Horn Book, May/June 2013, p. 93-94

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2012, p. 149

New York Times, March 8, 2013

Publishers Weekly, December 10, 2012, p. 62-63

School Library Journal, February 2013, p. 113

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Eleanor & Park takes place in the 1980s. Why do you think Rowell selected that time period? What elements of the story make setting it then essential? How does the story translate to today?

  2. Rowell is often asked why she made Park half Korean and addresses this in-depth on her website. How important is Park’s race to the story?

  3. Rowell, who is white, has been criticized by some for using Asian stereotypes in depicting Park. What are your feelings about authors writing about characters of a different race? Did you notice Eleanor’s mentions of Park’s “exoticness”?

  4. Eleanor is large, wild-haired, and poor. How does each attribute affect how she’s treated by others? How does each affect her feelings about herself?

  5. Park wants to wear eyeliner and dress more like the musicians he admires. What blocks him from fully embracing the style he’s drawn to?

  6. Park’s mother does not like Eleanor. Why? Is she being fair?

  7. The novel is set in Omaha, Nebraska. What sort of stereotypes come to mind when imagining Omaha? Does Rowell reinforce them?

  8. Eleanor’s mother loves her, but does not protect her. How does that impact Eleanor’s feelings about herself? Which of Eleanor’s parent’s is more responsible for her situation?

  9. What motivates Richie to do what he does? Why does Eleanor come in for his particular abuse? Why does her mother tolerate it?

  10. How do Richie’s repulsive comments impact Eleanor and Park’s romantic relationship?

  11. Why doesn’t Eleanor ask for help earlier?

  12. Eleanor’s chief teen tormentor, Tina, ends up helping her escape Richie. How did you react to that twist and what does it say about Tina‘s character?

  13. Eleanor & Park has been challenged as inappropriate by parents at some schools. What aspects of the story do you think alarms those adults most?

  14. Can first love last? Should it?

Related Websites:
Author's Website – http://rainbowrowell.com

“True Love, Book Fights, and Why Ugly Stories Matter” by Linda Holmes – http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/09/18/223738674/true-love-book-fights-and-why-ugly-stories-matter

“Is Eleanor and Park Racist?” – http://richincolor.com/2014/03/is-eleanor-and-park-racist-and-other-questions-to-ask/

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – www.rainn.org

Playlists – http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/2013/03/eleanor-park-all-the-playlist-all-the-music/


The Distance Between Us by Kasie West, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of theUniverse by Benjamin Alire Saenz, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, 2012

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, 2012

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman, 2011

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, 2011

Dark Water by Laura McNeal, 2010

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, 2009

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, 2003

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky, 1999

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, 1996


Other YA Books by the Author:
Fangirl, 2013

About the Author:
Rainbow Rowell writes for both teens and adults. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.