Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

rowell_ep_usInformation: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell was published in 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. ISBN: 1250012570

Plot Summary: Eleanor and Park is about sixteen year old Eleanor, who is the strange new kid at the local high school. She stands out with her bright red hair and mix-matched clothes. Eleanor struggles to make friends or even acquaintances because of how different she is than the other kids. She knows she isn’t as thin or as pretty as the other girls in school, but she doesn’t let that stop her from being herself. Then Park, the comic book loving, somewhat popular sixteen year old boy is forced to start sitting with Eleanor on the bus. After spending a few minutes a day with her for a few weeks, Park realizes Eleanor isn’t as strange as other kids make her seem and Eleanor sees Park’s life isn’t as perfect as she thought. Once they see their common interests, they fall in love, knowing it probably won’t last year. But once Eleanor’s life turns upside down, Park has to decide whether their love with worth the try.

Critical Evaluation: Rainbow Rowell writes a beautiful and believable love story between two teens struggling to understand their place in high school. Rowell’s story addresses strong topics of abuse and bullying and how friendships and relationships can help and uplift those struggling with difficult issues. Rowell uses a classic high school love story to show that teens struggling, still deserved to be loved and to love other people despite the way others see them or treat them.

Reader’s Annotation: Eleanor and Park are seemingly completely different teenagers, who realize how much in common they have after sitting next to each other on the bus. But after Park finds out the difficult home life Eleanor has to endure, Park must decide if their sixteen year old love is worth the risk.

Author’s Information:

Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline).
Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On.).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.

When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons (Rainbow Rowell).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • A major theme of this book is doomed love. Do you think Eleanor and Park’s relationship was doomed from the beginning? Why?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) and Ages 14-18

Challenge Issues:  Language, Abuse, Sexual Content

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Rowell, R. (2013). Eleanor & Park. New York, New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Eleanor & Park offers an untraditional twist to a high school love story, as both characters endure serious struggles while trying to establish a relationship. Rowell addresses abuse, bullying, and other extremely important topics that are often overlooked in romance fiction. Finally, a teen novel that doesn’t focus on the forever happy ending, but instead centers around the support, compassion, and care that is missing for many teens. Other recommendations like this book include: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr, and Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2014)
  • Georgia Peach Book Award (2014)
  • Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Young Adults (2015)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book because of it’s inspiring message that a relationship doesn’t have to be perfect or last forever in order to be what is needed. Rowell transports readers back to the 80s, giving them what John Hughes did for films. Not every teenager has to be perfect to live a good life or to be loved. Perfect isn’t all that it seems to be anyways.


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