Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell

Jennifer Hurlbut

Park Sheridan is your average half-Korean high school kid in the overwhelmingly Caucasian city of Omaha, Nebraska. First off, he adores music, loves comic books, and he doesn't have that many friends. But one day, he sees Eleanor Douglas get on the bus. His first reaction upon seeing her, is how bad he feels for her.

As a bigger girl, with bright red hair and a ridiculous passion for dressing in men's clothing, Eleanor's simple existence is like a magnet for every bully in their high school. Park knows that the snarky kids on the bus will tear her to pieces, so he quickly offers her a seat before things get worse.

What the pair didn't know, is that their love of music and comic books would bring them together in the most unlikely of relationships.

Eleanor comes from a small, slightly run-down, home in the suburbs with her mother, four siblings, and an abusive stepdad, Richie. Richie despises Eleanor's presence, but not as much as she despises his. Park on the other hand, comes from a happy, middle-class family that includes his Korean mother, American father, and younger brother. Eleanor used to live a life similar to Park, but after a difficult decision, her mother moved the family into their new father's home. She doesn't have nice things anymore, just a few books and some stationary.

After many silent bus rides, Park finally speaks up. They read his comics together everyday. No matter how much he prods, Eleanor refuses to open up to him because, well why would she? He's a complete stranger. He shares his music with her and lends her his comics; but why? The relationship between Eleanor and Park is ever confusing and full of unexpressed feelings that take their time to fully come out.

Eventually, mix tapes are exchanged and sparks fly; they're inseparable, living for the minutes they spend with each other on the bus. And when they finally gather the courage to hold hands, you'd never even think hand-holding could be that incredible.

Park stands up for Eleanor and protects her at all costs. He gets fed up with the bullying and does everything he can to simply see her smile again. Park adores every little flaw and edge on Eleanor; they're the little things that make her perfect who she is. They feel on cloud nine, no matter how rough the waters get.

                                                It is truly a love written in the stars.                                         

To be but a travesty?

Although romance is beginning to shine through, Eleanor has had to cope with strenuous obstacles not only at school, but at home. She's constantly bullied by her peers, who have developed an entertaining new nickname for her; "Big Red". On top of that, an anonymous bully even writes disgusting notes on her school books. At home, Eleanor tries her best to be invisible, hoping and praying that Richie won't notice her, and lives in fear for her mother as she listens to him abuse her, daily.

Eleanor finds Park's house to be a safe haven after school, although Park's parents are initially a little shocked by Eleanor's 'unusual' appearance. Park's Korean mom, an Avon beautician, has a rather hard time accepting Eleanor and her quirks. But once she gets a glimpse of what Eleanor's family life is like, she realizes she can sympathize with Eleanor—she also grew up in poverty with a ton of siblings. From this point on, Park's parents are incredibly caring and supportive, inviting Eleanor to stay for dinner every night, and finally accepting her as Park's girlfriend—which she finally is.

The pair develop a star-crossed romance that can only be broken by the one thing she hates most, Richie. As Eleanor and Park fall more deeply in love, Eleanor feels as if the other shoe's about to drop. They have almost no time to spend alone, in fear of what might happen if Richie finds out about Park.

After a blissful first, and sadly only, night out, Eleanor comes home to find that Richie's discovered her secret. Eleanor makes a groundbreaking decision that alters not only her life, but Park's as well.

Will they stay together or be torn apart, to never see each other again?

Literary Elements

Protagonist: Eleanor

Antagonist: Richie

Theme: Overcoming fear & everlasting love

Book Recommendation:

I would definitely recommend this book to a FEMALE friend; I've heard a lot of guys tell me its too ''mushy'' and ''boring''. It's a love story involving young adults and the troubles that some of us may be facing, which is what makes it feels so relatable. I really loved how the book was split into Eleanor and Park's P.O.V.; this ended up really helping me understand how it felt to be on either side of the spectrum in a romance, such as this one.

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