Parents' Guide to

Eleanor & Park

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Intense '80s romance is a fabulous pick for mature teens.

Eleanor & Park Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 17 parent reviews

age 14+


Don't bother with this book. Eleanor is a character that constantly is racist to her "love interest," Park. Also, Park is not even a traditionally Korean first name, but a LAST NAME. The author stereotyped the people of color and characterized them mainly by racial stereotypes associated with their race. Park's own mother was called a "China Doll." Don't bother reading this book or watching the movie.
5 people found this helpful.
age 15+

Please find other books to read.

In the time since this book’s debut, many readers (including myself) have realized this book contains a lot of casual racism, fetishization of Asians, and harmful stereotypes usually involving the Koreans and Korean-Americans in this story. Firstly, the author makes the two main characters out to be “strange” and “outsiders”. Eleanor is strange because of her red hair, and Park is “strange” because he… is Asian. The racism Park faces should not equate to Eleanor’s hair color and weight. Eleanor often focuses on the appearances of Park and his mother, usually in a negative way. She says, “His mom looked exactly like a doll… tiny and perfect… Eleanor imagined Park’s dad, Tom Selleck, tucking his Dainty China person into his flak jacket and sneaking her out of Korea.” The comparison is supposed to be a compliment about how delicate and “perfect” Park’s mother is, but it just furthers the stereotypes that Asians are tiny and “delicate”, and that all Asians are the same. She calls his mother a “dainty China person”, when she is in fact Korean. Eleanor later says, “Park’s eyes got wide. Well, sort of… Sometimes she wondered if the shape of his eyes effected how he saw things. That was probably the most racist question of all time”. She knows she's being racist, but no one ever does anything to change this. “Park” is a Korean last name, not first name. Park embodies many common East Asian stereotypes: he takes taekwondo (which is incorrectly used interchangeably with “kung fu”), is great at math, struggles in English, and is often described as “small” and “feminine-looking”. He also has a lot of self-loathing, mostly having to do with being half-Korean. Park also has a lot of internalized anti-Asian hatred, and doesn’t think he’s attractive specifically because he’s Asian. The book also contains harmful stereotypes in Eleanor’s friends, two Black girls who are only loud, sassy, and constantly ready to fight someone. There are many other things to say, but I wanted to keep this as concise as possible. Please seek other books by Authors of Color! Books I recommend instead: - Love From A to Z by S. K. Ali - To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Wicked Fox by Kat Cho - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - Frankly In Love by David Yoon
5 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (17):
Kids say (74):

Author Rainbow Rowell touchingly explores the overwhelming nature of first love -- the kind of love that feels as if it can last a lifetime, that can help heal wounds and open doors. Eleanor and Park are both misfits in their Omaha high school, but they see the best and the beautiful in each other. Their passionate conversations and debates -- about everything from the role of women in comic books (Eleanor says they're too passive, Park disagrees) to the opening measures of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" or the short-sightedness of Romeo and Juliet -- lays the foundation for a believable and poignant love story.

This is a fabulous book for mothers (especially those who grew up in the '80s!) to read along with their teen daughters. Not only will it spur substantive discussions, but it also will allow mothers to share their own perspectives on what and who they loved in high school. With witty dialogue and pitch-perfect descriptions of teen life in the mid-'80s, this is a story that will make your heart ache and then make it sing. If only every girl could meet a boy like Park, who, as Eleanor says, is not a boyfriend but a "champion." Forget the dazzling vampires who don't exist, girls, and find yourself the awesome boy on the bus -- the one who sees you not for how you dress but who you are.

Book Details

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