So I just finished Eleanor and Park. I’ve been majorly slacking when it comes to reading, but I really wanted to read this book as soon as i finished Fangirl (and I have to return it to the library in a few days) and so I basically marathoned this book over about 6 or so hours and finished it. I am a relatively slow reader so this has been a huge achievement for me. Can I just say… oh my goodness. This book tho. I’ve had a really good day today and this book was icing on the cake. Persoanlly I think it’s waaay better than Fangirl, and very sweet. I can’t remember how many stars I gave Fangirl, but this has to be at least an 8/10 for me. Maybe even 8.5.
Okay, spoilers below YOU HAVE BEEN WAAARNED.
Okay I need to start at the ending. HOW SWEET WAS THE POSTCARD?! I had been waiting the whole book for her to say the three precious words, and that HAS to be what she sent him right?! Anyway, I thought that was a very fitting way to end, although Park not taking Eleanor to prom was a little heartbreaking.
And I was sitting there like- guuurl why don’t you write back to him?! Whyyyyyyy?! I’m actually curious about this. Was it kind of trying to leave her old past behind with Richie and the rest and becoming her own person? Trying to savour the magic that was her relationship and not trying to draw it out into nothing? I felt like she could have at least said something to him rather than just not replying. I don’t know.
I just felt so sorry for Eleanor and the way her life had turned out. It was a tad confusing to me that she didn’t like being away from her mum and siblings. I guess I understand with being homesick and wanting to be with your own, but I guess having that comfort of knowing that nothing’s going to happen to you should provide some relief? She did escape it in the end, and I’m guessing her Mum found the courage to remove her kids from the toxic situation. It was all so sad to read.
I loved the two perspectives of the book. I’ve read books before with similar plot lines, but seeing how the two saw situations in different lights really changed the way I saw things. One scene that comes to mind is when Park sees Eleanor in her jumpsuit. Wait gymsuit. I have just realised I have spent this whole book picturing their gym clothes as jump suits. Are gymsuits the same? Anyway, I was totally on Eleanor’s wavelength and thought Park was being his shallow self and then it switches to his POV and he’s got a guy’s mind about the whole thing and just thinking about her in other ways ;) . So that threw me a bit but also made me chuckle with relief.
The other scene, or more theme was when he would always comment on how quirky her clothing was, but how she seemed to not want to be seen. I couldn’t work out why she would dress like that, until it’s revealed that she’s poor and can’t afford to have nice clothes which is why she makes modifications to them. Finding that out was quite sad, but also makes you admire Eleanor for her resilience .
I need to say when I saw DeNice’s name, at first I was confused, and then I got into hysterics. And Beedie or whatever her name was made sense also. I totally thought they were working behind her back and writing the mean things but noooooooo.
I was kinda surprised that it was Richie who was writing those things. I was a bit confused as to why he would go so far as to write it on her journal. I dunno, it just seemed like too much effort for someone like him to go through.
To be honest, the ending just left me feeling so bad for Park. I mean I get that you just have to deal with heartbreak and it will heal with time, but he really loved her you know? Ah well I guess…
Oh yeah. this was set in the 80’s so mixtapes were a thing. I have an honest question here- what is so special about the Smiths and the like? Perks had similar musical references and yeah, just curious to know how big they were at the time and such.
I feel like I have so many thoughts about this book but they’ve all kind of lulled into this sense of contentment. It was just so sweet and just a very nice end to a great day.
My favourite quote in the book, which I’m sure many people would agree with, was:
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.
I read it and couldn’t help just nodding. I mean how true is that? Her beauty wasn’t in being “nice”. which is I guess what Kim the preppy girl was about, but rather about having something to say and evoking an emotion from someone.
Oh I also really liked Park’s family dynamic. especially how his Mum came around to Eleanor after seeing her family and remembering, while painfully, about her life in Korea, and becoming more accepting of her and understanding how tough things must be for her. Park’s dad is persistent, I have to say. Ensuing he learns to “use the stick”. It’s a heck of a lot harder than it looks so I was completely sympathising with Park there.
I liked how Rowell explored Park’s background and how he would have insecurities about people liking him because of his Korean descent. I guess I have similar fears, although from an African perspective, and the way she words it really resonated with me. I know that feel bro.
I also have to say, good on Park for standing up to the bullies and all. I totally thought he was going to be embarrassed about Eleanor but he wasn’t so that was awesome.
So much more happened but I really enjoyed this one. Really great book to get me back on my reading game.
Oh yeah- how do you pronounce Eleanor? I say Elle-ay-nor because the first person I met with that name says it like that, but Elle-ah-nor seems to be more widely accepted. I kept switching between the two.