Love Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell? We’ve got your next favorite book. Whether you liked the retro setting, the opposites attract romance, or comics & mix tapes, there’s something here for you. If you’re a librarian or library worker looking for suggestions to offer readers, this list includes both older and new titles.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Readers won’t be able to help but cheer for Willowdean, an overweight teen who loves Dolly Parton and enters a local beauty pageant to prove a point to her mom, her town, and herself. Funny and moving, this is just a delight to read. The small town Texas town comes alive, the complicated friendship dynamics are nuanced, and the complications of feeling of first love ring true. This is a fun, feel good novel that’s the perfect antidote to Eleanor & Park’s heart-wrenching story.
Love is Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
While this is a memoir written for adults rather than a YA novel, fans of Eleanor and Park may enjoy Rolling Stone editor and rock critic Sheffield’s story of life, love, and mix tapes.
Tape by Steve Camden
Amelia finds a tape in her mother’s belongings, which turns out to be a recorded diary of Ryan, who lived 20 years ago. This well-structured and emotional novel weaves both stories together with plenty of twists and turns.
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
This story of star-crossed interracial love in NYC has rich cultural details and makes you believe in fate.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (2015 Teens’ Top Ten)
This novel and its sequel offers a lighter realistic romance that features a half-Korean family and a cute, awkward romance.
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Staniford
This story of two misfits who bond over a shared love of a quirky call-in radio show is full of wonder. The amazing voice of the characters will captivate fans of Eleanor & Park.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
This summer romance between an interracial couple is inspired by The Little Mermaid and is a truly unique love story.
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
Eleanor and Park bonded over comic books and mix tapes; Lesh and Svetlana meet because of their interest in role-playing games. Both are complicated, realistic romances.
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (2013 Morris Award Finalist)
When Amelia begins working at a grocery store, she falls head over heels for Chris, fellow cashier and college student. The two become close, but is their age difference too big for them to move beyond friendship? This story, told in alternative perspectives of both Amelia and Chris, captures that bittersweet first love found in Eleanor & Park.
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell
Of course a novel set in a record store will have a great soundtrack – this one also has a lot of heart, a mystery, a bit of weirdness, a lot of grief, and a little bit of love. For readers who love Aussie YA and summertime adventure.
Tales of a Madman Underground by John Barnes (2010 Printz Honor Award)
This novel is an accurate look at the life of a teen struggling to cope with a drunk mother while working several after-school jobs and being forced to go to group therapy. What makes this a standout is Karl’s voice.
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Porter
For readers looking for a more light-hearted opposites attract romance, this is the perfect fit. Popular Anika has a crush on loner Logan – but will she sacrifice her social status for a chance at romance?
Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Althea and Oliver are lifelong best friends struggling with an unrequited crush and a health issue against the backdrop of 1990s mix tape and zine culture.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isobel Quintero (2015 Morris Award Winner)
Gabi struggles with lots of issues her senior year of high school – a pregnant friend, a friend who comes out, a drug addicted father, and her own crushes on boys and feelings of insecurity over her weight. She handles it all through writing poetry and journal entries. Readers who loved Eleanor will relate to Gabi.
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
This insightful novel details the cruel politics of high school, but also the power of music to bring people together. The protagonist’s voice is charming and her journey is one many teens will relate to.
Do you have a favorite book that’s perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell? Please share in the comments!
— Molly Wetta, currently reading What We Left Behind by Robin Talley