The critical reception for the book has been mostly positive. Kirkus Reviews said: "Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike." Author John Green said Eleanor & Park "reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book."
The American Library Association gave the book a 2014 Michael L. Printz Award Honor book for excellence in young adult literature. Calling Eleanor & Park "an honest, heart-wrenching portrayal of imperfect but unforgettable love," The Boston Globe and The Horn Book Magazine presented Rowell the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction. The New York Times Book Review named it one of seven Notable Children's Books of 2013. NPR said Eleanor & Park "captures the pure, visceral thrill of a high school swoon, but it never forgets that those feelings are real and important" in naming the book to its list of the Best Books of 2013. The Association for Library Service to Children, the Young Adult Library Services Association and Booklist recognized the audiobook version of Eleanor & Park with a 2014 Odyssey Honor.
Additional honors for Eleanor & Park:
- Indies Choice Young Adult Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association
- Amazon's Teen Book of the Year and Top Ten Book of the Year
- Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Book of the Year
- Young Adult Library Services Association Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
- Audible's Best Teen Audiobook of the Year