71 pages 2 hours read

Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2012

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Summary and Study Guide


In Eleanor and Park, we introduced to the young teenager, Park, who is half-Korean and somewhat of an outcast at school. He would prefer to read comics or listen to music than make new friends, and he is bullied from time to time by his peers. One day, Park sees Eleanor Douglas get on his bus, and from that point forward, his life is changed forever.

In many ways, Eleanor is a target for bullies. She dresses in baggy, boys’ clothes and was large in stature, with red hair. When no one on the bus will let her sit beside them, Park lets her sit with him and a friendship slowly develops between the two. Over time, we learn that Park and Eleanor have very different lives: Park comes from a loving middle-class home, whereas Eleanor lives in an abusive household with her stepfather, Richie.

Their friendship quickly solidifies into something stronger. They spend their daily bus rides together reading comic books and listening to mix-tapes that they have made for each other. Before long, the two youngsters are holding hands and are discovering that what they feel for each other is stronger than they originally thought possible.

As their relationship blossoms, Eleanor and Park become increasingly distraught over lewd messages that are being left anonymously on Eleanor’s notebook. They are sexually inappropriate and they enrage Park. At first the two are unable to discern who the author of the messages is, so they determine to keep their eyes peeled.

Eleanor is not allowed to hang out with boys, so she tells her mom that she goes to hang out with a girl called Tina every day after school. In reality, she spends her evenings at Park’s house. They do their homework together, have dinner, and talk about their days. It becomes increasingly apparent that their relationship is blossoming into love.

After going on her first date with Park, Eleanor returns home to find that her stepfather, Richie, has ransacked her belongings. Furthermore, he has scribbled messages all over her stuff and she realizes that it’s the same handwriting that the lewd messages are written in. She knows that she has to run away.

Eleanor enlists Park’s help, and the two travel to St. Paul so that Eleanor can live with her uncle. Park makes Eleanor to promise that she will call and write, but when Park returns to Omaha, Eleanor does not read his letters for several months. At the end of the book, Park seems to have moved on from Eleanor when he finally receives a postcard from her. The narrative does not say what the message is, but it does say that it consists of just three words: enough for it to possibly say “I love you.”