Happy Saturday, everyone! Can you believe the month is already over?! I feel like February absolutely flew by for me (in a good way). I actually didn't get around to starting the book club book until late last week. I was nervous I wouldn't make it through the whole thing before today because I'm often a fairly slow reader/don't have tons of time to read every week. But, Eleanor & Park turned out to be such a fun, quick read that I blew through it all during two long flights this week. Did you think it was a fast read too?
Before I share any of my thoughts on this book, I do want to warn: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! So if you haven't finished the book yet, I'd hold off as I'd hate to ruin it for you. 🙂
These are just a few of my thoughts. Feel free to use these as jumping off points for our discussion, or you can start talking about something totally different that you thought about while reading.
1. DID YOU LIKE THE ENDING?!
I feel super conflicted about it. I think my gut reaction was a mix of disappointment and slight confusion. I feel like it's fair to assume that those three words in Eleanor's postcard to Park are, "I love you", but I also think it's vague enough that I didn't feel entirely confident assuming this. So, although it is a happy ending in that Eleanor is safe, it sort of felt a little anticlimactic to me. Not that I necessarily think the book would be better had it ended in a wedding, that didn't seem likely to happen. But it also talks about Romeo and Juliet throughout the story, so I wondered if Rowell would at least leave us with some big final ending. But, maybe that's the point a little bit? What did you think?
2. Eleanor's family situation
For me, it's easy to forget that there are lots of people who grow up in very different family situations than myself. I identified more with Park's family. My parents love each other and love their children. I've always known my parents loved me even if they didn't agree with choices I was making growing up. We had regular teenager problems, but my parents were nothing short of awesome and supportive through it all. We ate dinner together. They taught me to drive a car and took me to get my license. All the "normal" stuff. But it's not normal for everyone. Park experiences this when he is faced with the realties of Eleanor's family. I had a very good friend in high school who grew up in an abusive family. Like Eleanor, she was often in danger but felt trapped because when you're a "kid" with no money, no car, and no one to listen to you, it's hard to get help. So many things that happened to Eleanor throughout the book reminded me of this friend and things she dealt with. I wish no child had to live through situations like that. It's completely unfair. It reminded me that I need to make sure to take opportunities to help others when they come up (and I should probably make them come up more). Sometimes there are opportunities through my church or other organizations, and I should do what I can to help instead of just thinking about it or assuming everyone else is helping so I don't need to.
3. Love is larger than the sum of its parts
Probably one of my favorite things from this book is how Rowell, in my opinion, does a fantastic job of showing how love is always more than the sum of its parts. Like, if you try to break down why you fall in love with someone, it never adds up, right? It doesn't entirely make sense. Watching Eleanor and Park go from two strangers on a school bus who are forced to sit near each other to falling in love and having to be separated by very adult circumstances was sort of amazing. It felt totally natural as you read, but sitting back and thinking how they fall in love, it almost seems too simple or doesn't quite add up. In my experience, that's actually what love is like. It's often awkward and inconvenient, but also inescapable when the real thing comes your way.
If you can't tell, I really enjoyed this book. So glad we read it this month! I will for sure be picking up Rowell's other book sometime soon. Hope you enjoyed the read this month too. And don't forget, next month we're reading, All The Light We Cannot See, so be sure to pick up or check out your copy soon. xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photo edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.
I loved this book so much. The characters were great and well developed. I couldn’t stop reading. The ending caught me by surprise though. I kinda expected them to see each other again before they left. Instead he went to prom with another girl. I hated that!!!! The postcard thing really confused me, and I thought about it. I think the 3 words could be
1. I love you
2. I’m coming home
3. I miss you
4. Meet me ———
I personally hope it was I’m coming home, but I can’t be sure.
I like everything about this book except the ending part. I don’t think park should bring cat to prom night & kiss her. The ending kinda disappointing to me ????
Hi Marie! We are taking a little break from the book club. -Jacki
Hello, I was just wondering when you will be posting the book selection for April?
I thought this was a quick, enjoyable read. My first thought about the three words on the postcard were “I love you,” but the more I thought about it, I think “I miss you” makes the most sense. That phrase was used almost in excess between Eleanor and Park. After months of no contact, I think those simple words would bring Park out of his dark place, and reestablish their friendship, with or without their former romance.
I was lucky that my library had multiple copies of this book, so I was able to read it right at the beginning of February, however I read it in about two days! So I have forgotten a few things by now. For me the book hit a little too close to home to be a comfortable read at times, reading almost like a satire to me. It was written exceptionally well and I enjoyed it for the most part considering.
1) I liked the ending up until when he received the postcard from her, when I was younger i might have needed that ‘closure’ but as an adult i find it kind of cheesy. I don’t know, maybe that’s the wrong word, but I didn’t find it to be as realistic as the rest of the book read.
2) I found Eleanor’s situation uncomfortably close to my experience’s as a teenager in a ‘broken home’ so-to-speak. I read most often at night when i’m around my boyfriend and i kept stopping and saying to him “wow, that’s similar to when … happened” and not until i read this book wasn’t i actually aware of how crazy up some of what I experienced was and still is living with family still in that situation. Coming from a similar setting I have to say when you’re in it, you don’t really think about how other family’s perform, and it does taint your perception of the family dynamic. So I really understood Eleanor’s initial feeling of being uncomfortable around Park’s family, but also I completely get why eleanor just get’s on with it and doesn’t complain, like Eleanor I just figured that I would eventually leave and that what the undesirable doesn’t know doesn’t concern him anyway.
3) My boyfriend is amazing and I love him and we fell weirdly and madly in love at the beginning in the strangest of circumstances and I could never explain all the reason’s i fell and why I still do love him. This is true beyond anything
I LOVED this book. I seriously couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours. I have always been a fast reader, but this book had me hooked. I think the author did a fantastic job portraying the love story between Eleanor and Park. Its high school. Things happen a little differently during that time. Everything seems a little more like a fairy tale. Honestly, it reminded me of a relationship I had in high school. It seemed real which can be hard to achieve. I commend the author.
I must say, the ending killed me. I was hoping things would resolve at least to a certain extent. I can only assume the three words were “I love you” but I am still left with so many questions!
I came from a home more like Eleanor’s although I never had a wicked step dad, just more a home that I didn’t want to bring friends into. I identified a lot with Eleanor and really enjoyed reading about the two of them falling for each other. I love how it started out sweet and mostly silent and how they got to know each other through music and comics first. I loved the tension Rainbow created and how devoted they became to each other. I also loved Park’s honesty about his shortcomings. When his mother discovered Eleanor’s family life and how she responded, it just broke my heart. I couldn’t stop crying about it for some reason. I loved how his family came to embrace her and wish that all kids who come from a tough home find someone or a family that will love them they way they deserve to be loved. The ending broke my heart and I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t respond to his letters and tapes. It just didn’t make sense to me. But then in the end, she couldn’t resist. I so wonder what will happen to them now.
I also LOVED the scene where he discovers her in her gym suit and the fact that she was completely horrified while he was mesmerized and couldn’t stop thinking about her and “that zipper”. I thought the love scenes were so sweet and intense and wanting, I could imagine all the emotions they were feeling about each other. What is it about first loves? They are so intense and wonderful and stay with you forever.
I like to imagine Eleanor and Park finding their way back to each other in college and would love to read the sequel although it would be a totally different story. I don’t worry too much abut the other kids because it sounds like they all moved out of the stepfather’s house and I imagine her uncle is helping them out.
About the counselor, I think it’s really tough to help someone who won’t ask for help. It’s a fine line and as much as the counselor probably wanted to do, until Eleanor asked for help, she couldn’t receive it. She needed to save herself. Plus I’m sure Eleanor’s mom would refuse any help offered. Even at the end, I bet she left because of an ultimatum she couldn’t refuse rather than a desire to get out of the situation she was in. Coming from an abusive background, I sort of understand why someone stays in dysfunction. She didn’t believe she deserved more and probably couldn’t even imagine what that would look like. Even when she got it, she would never feel worthy.
Anyway, I thought it was a wonderful book and am so glad I read it. Now I am tearing my way through a ton of young adult novels. I can’t stop! I already have the next book on Audible and am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the wonderful recommendation!
I agree and i would say you will be a great social worker
I agree i wanted to know more and what happened to her family
The love between Eleanor and Park reminded my of my teenage loves and all the tingle and butterflies. I love the way Rowell describes the young love – so real and exciting.
But the big topic in the book for my was the abuse and the violence in the family. Like you and Elsie I have grown up in a family full of love and support and with a very strong bond among 4 of us (I also have a sister). And I also do not have friends or classmates in abusive families (or at least I don’t know for such). But I know this is a big issue and there are a lot of children and women who suffer in their families and I think even the biggest problem is that most of them don’t realize the problem or do not want to realize it. That is the reason to find this book so important – because I believe the victims of abuse could see the problem better trough someone else’s eyes. This is my main reason to recommend the book everywhere with the hope it will land in the right hands.
And for the three words – what about “Nothing ever ends” from the Watchmen comic book. I think they fit perfectly. 🙂
A lot of greetings from Bulgaria! xo. Jeni
I thought this book was a pretty decent read. A little angsty, but I guess thats to be expected from a Ya love story. I really identified with Eleanor and found myself flying through the pages to find out how it turns out for her. Funny though, I thought the three words were I miss you. I thought the bit about her looking over all of the unopened mail and wondering if they could start over lead to her sending an I miss you postcard. The thought of all that unopened mail still feels kind of haunting. I’d love if they made a sequel that was just all of the mail Park sent!
I read this book quite some time ago, and I love it. As you stated, I was brought up much more like Park, I have a loving family and they are supportive and quirky and I never had to deal with the ugly world of feeling like I was in danger. I did however relate to Elanore so deeply in that she felt like a misfit, and for me the most powerful part of the book was when Park’s mother gave Elanore her makeover and everyone fussed over her but to her it felt alien. I had almost the exact same experience and that moment still sticks with me.
I too loved the way Rowell showed love. It’s not perfect and it comes together weird and there’s fun and awkward and confusing and everything all rolled into one, especially as a teen; very well done.
I’m so glad that I stumbled across this. I love the idea of a virtual book club.
Thank you for selecting this book for february, I really enjoyed reading it!
I agree with you about the ending – I just wished, it would have taken a couple of pages more to give the story the perfect ending that it deserves. Not in a happily-ever-after-way but the story between Park and Eleanor was so carefully built up, you could almost fall for Eleanor / Park as well as the characters. I felt like every word was chosen so carefully to describe the relationships between all of the characters, it’s just sad that you are left with almost nothing in the end. Sure, I understand that Rowell maybe didn’t want to go into one specific direction but it ends too aprupt for my liking.
I could relate a lot with Eleanor. When I was a teenager my mom used to date that kind of loser Richie is. He wasn’t abusive but I could relate a lot to Eleanor about feeling helpless and invisible to her mother.
This book is still very precious to me and I will surely read it again!
I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant to read this one, as it was the first YA book I’ve read since I was a YA… but I was really blown away by the subtleties and complexities in this story. I thought Rowell used such great language when describing Park’s and Eleanor’s thoughts… they were grown-up thoughts and topics, to be sure, but viewed through the somewhat short-sighted, naive eyes of a young adult really straddling the world between being a child and full-blown adult. This really resonated with me as a gal in my early thirties just starting to look toward buying a house, having kids, etc – I feel like I’m in another ‘straddling two worlds’ moment in life, and it’s refreshing to be reminded that we’re never quite as ‘grown up’ as we think we are. And that’s okay.
As for the ending… I went through about a zillion different three word sentences. “I love you” and “Park, just stop” were the first contenders, but then I started thinking about “see you soon” or “until next time”, and decided I liked those best. I’m trying to embrace the uncertainty of it!
Overall, I really liked this book. While I don’t think I’ll become an avid YA reader anytime soon, I definitely wouldn’t turn my nose up at a book anymore just because it’s in the YA section. Thanks for broadening my horizons, Emma! 🙂
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it due to such a vast age difference between myself and the characters, but it was so well written. It’s not really a happy story and I appreciated that most. I kind of assumed the three words in the end are “I love you,” but due to distance and the age of the characters I didn’t find myself believing it would go on beyond that final page.
I (kinda, sorta) cheated and listened to the unabridged audiobook of Eleanor and Park at work. I am blessed to have a job that lets me listen to books and music all day, so no complaining from me. But, by the end of Eleanor and Park I was a crying mess. I thought Eleanor and Park’s relationship was incredibly realistic. I found myself irritated with Eleanor when she would pull away from Park, but it was entirely aligned with the way she was being treated at home. She couldn’t handle emotions like happiness and hope, when all she had at home was fear and anger. I was also furious with Eleanor’s parents. Her mother refused to save herself or her children from the situation they were in. However, this is a great example of how people and even your own parents can let you down and are not always strong enough to do the right thing.
What if it says “I’m Hans Solo” ?
That could be a really sweet ending since they argued about who was the “Hans Solo” in the relationship.
I absolutely loved this book. But there’s just one little thing I would love to stand out.
You mentioned in your post about the family situations and how different things were for Park and Eleanor. I love the fact that at the end Park opened up to his dad when there was a critical moment, even though they weren’t so close to each other. I just love that after their talk his dad didn’t solve the problem for him, he just trusted in his son to do the right thing and supported him. I’m not really sure I would do that as a parent of a 17 year old, but that part of the ending was really nice.
It would be so cool to have a movie of the book! 😀
Thanks for your insight this month!