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Eleanor and Park

Summer Reading Project
by

Katie Meehan

on 2 September 2013

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Transcript of Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Presentation by Katie Meehan
Summary
Eleanor is the new girl in her school. As everyone puts it, she is big and awkward. She has frizzy, red curly hair and is larger than everyone else, therefore she is called big red by most of her classmates. She wears clothes that are too big and bought from the men's department in second hand stores, and she decorates her hair with items like fish lures.
Park is the small Korean guy that tries to go unnoticed. He sits on the bus, reads comics and listens to music while trying to avoid any conversations.
Both of their lives change the day that they meet.
Eleanor and Park's love begins in 1986, when Eleanor is forced to sit with Park on the bus. They begin as strangers and rarely mumble phrases to each other, until Park notices Eleanor reading his comic books over his shoulder.
Their love for each other begins to spark when Park gives Eleanor comic books to take home every night and read. Their love grows into hand holding, hugging, and even kissing, along with music sharing and blasting walkmen, despite the verbal abuse that Eleanor and Park receive from peers because of their disapproval of the love.
Eventually, Eleanor's abusive step-father finds out about the forbidden love and becomes infuriated. Park feared that he would lose Eleanor and felt that he needed to keep her safe, even if that meant not being able to be with her anymore.
He drove Eleanor all the way to her Aunt and Uncle's, a place far away from her dangerous step father and crazy family filled with children.
Park and Eleanor are both devastated by the loss of each other and the end of their love, but continue to remember their days together and accept the fact that the love they had for one another was one of a kind and unforgettable.

Two Against the World
‘Eleanor & Park,’ by Rainbow Rowell

By JOHN GREEN
Published: March 8, 2013

"I have never seen anything quite like “Eleanor & Park.” Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story — but I have seen those. It’s set in 1986, and God knows I’ve seen that. There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen “Eleanor & Park.” Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.

Eleanor is a “big girl” with bright red hair (kids on the bus call her Big Red, and she describes herself as resembling a barmaid) who has just returned to her home in Omaha, after being kicked out for a year and forced to stay with acquaintances. Every moment Eleanor is home is terrifying and claustrophobic — she shares a room with a mess of siblings and lives in constant fear of offending her abusive alcoholic stepfather, Richie. She’s also poor — she cannot afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman.

Park is a half-Korean kid who’s passably popular but separated from the larger social order of his school both by his race and by his passion for comic books and good music. On the first day of school, Eleanor sits down next to him on the bus. Over time, she begins reading his comics over his shoulder. Then he lends them to her. They bond over music. Eventually, they begin holding hands on the rides to and from school.

The hand-holding, by the way, is intense. “Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat.” Evocative sensual descriptions are everywhere in this novel, but they always feel true to the characters. Eleanor describes Park’s trench coat as smelling “like Irish Spring and a little bit like potpourri and like something she couldn’t describe any other way than boy.” Park watches Eleanor’s mouth so closely that he “could see that her lips had freckles, too.” After Eleanor castigates him for saying she looks “nice,” Park thinks: “Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” And they are relentlessly, deliciously fascinated with the feel of each other’s touch. Two-thirds of the way through the book, when Park realizes they’ve only touched north of the chin and south of the wrists, I felt as flabbergasted as he does.

Every romance has its obstacle: I have another boyfriend; my parents say we can’t; you’re a vampire and I’m not; etc. But the obstacle in “Eleanor & Park” is simply the world. The world cannot stomach a relationship between a good-looking Korean kid and Big Red. The world cannot allow Eleanor a boyfriend of any kind, because she’s poor and fat and dresses funny. The world cannot allow Park a girlfriend because he likes wearing eyeliner, and everyone knows that’s gay. The world is the obstacle, as it always is when you’re 16 and truly in love. Park’s parents — two of the best-drawn adults I can remember in a young adult novel — serve as evidence that sometimes love conquers the world, and Eleanor’s family is a reminder that sometimes it doesn’t.

“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.

John Green is the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Paper Towns,” “Looking for Alaska” and “An Abundance of ­Katherines.”
Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell has written two books in addition to Eleanor and Park called Fangirl and Attachments. She currently lives in Nebraska with her two sons and enjoys planning trips to Disney World and reading comic books when she is not writing. Her website is http://rainbowrowell.com.
Review of the Book from the New York Times
Favorite Paragraph
"There's no such thing as handsome princes, she told herself. There's no such thing as happily ever after. She looked up at Park. Into his golden green eyes. You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always."
This is my favorite paragraph because Eleanor is able to accept the fact that she is not going to be with Park forever, even though she loves him. In the beginning of the book, Eleanor expresses her hatred for young love, especially Romeo and Juliet, by saying that the "two rich kids who've always gotten every little thing they want" now "think that they want each other". This paragraph shows the transformation Eleanor goes through with Park. She now believes in young love, even if it is temporary and never perfect.
Recommendation
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend because of its interesting charactors along with its creative writing style. Rowell wrote a book that makes readers fall in love instantly with the charactors. Immediately you can find Eleanor's fashion style and personality awkward yet charming. At first you may feel bad for Eleanor because of her dysfunctional family and how they struggle with money and being able to take care of all the kids, but later on you will realize that she is a strong woman and she does not allow these problems to interfere with her relationship with Park. Park's character can remind you of the quiet and kind boy who always sits in the front of the classroom. Park's parents help remind you throughout the story that true love does exist, but you need to find it and work on keeping it. Although the plot is similar to most books in the young adult section, what really makes it stand out is how it is written. The book is written from both Park and Eleanor's perspective and keep the book interesting. Parts where this type of writing really shines are when Eleanor and Park share intimate moments. While holding hands Park compares Eleanor's hand to a butterfly, and Eleanor shares that feeling his thumb trace through her palm causes her nerves to shoot off throughout their entire body.
This heart represents the unconditional love Park and Eleanor had for each other
Eleanor would wear interesting decorations to school like fish lures or mens' ties
Eleanor and Park shared a love for music and would listen to songs by artists like The Smiths or The Beatles
Eleanor would wear a silk scarf tied around her wrist. Park loved feeling the soft fabric between his index finger and thumb before slipping his hand into her palm.
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