Eleanor & Park
Publishing Information: New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013
Pages: 328 p.
Annotation: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Summary: Eleanor, an overweight girl from a troubled home, and Park, a biracial lover of comic books and alternative music, meet on the school bus. Social outcast and misfit may dare to fall in love, but there’s no way their love can remain private in a hostile world.
Book Trailers: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NIuHz3RILdM
Book Talk: There’s an empty seat beside him when she gets on the bus. Eleanor. Her crazy red hair, her lush body, and her shabby clothes are all targets that might rub off on him if she sits down. But what can he do? Stay cool, ignore her, even if she gets in the habit of taking that seat. But how long can he ignore Eleanor when the closer she gets the more alive he feels?
Subject Headings & Major Themes:
Dating (social customs)
Awards & Reviews:
2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction
2014 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book
New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book, 2013
Indies Choice Young Adult Book of the Year
Amazon’s Teen Book of the Year
Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Book of the Year
Audible’s Best Teen Audiobook of the Year
Booklist, January 1, 2013, p. 98
Horn Book, May/June 2013, p. 93-94
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2012, p. 149
New York Times, March 8, 2013
Publishers Weekly, December 10, 2012, p. 62-63
School Library Journal, February 2013, p. 113
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
Eleanor & Park takes place in the 1980s. Why do you think Rowell selected that time period? What elements of the story make setting it then essential? How does the story translate to today?
Rowell is often asked why she made Park half Korean and addresses this in-depth on her website. How important is Park’s race to the story?
Rowell, who is white, has been criticized by some for using Asian stereotypes in depicting Park. What are your feelings about authors writing about characters of a different race? Did you notice Eleanor’s mentions of Park’s “exoticness”?
Eleanor is large, wild-haired, and poor. How does each attribute affect how she’s treated by others? How does each affect her feelings about herself?
Park wants to wear eyeliner and dress more like the musicians he admires. What blocks him from fully embracing the style he’s drawn to?
Park’s mother does not like Eleanor. Why? Is she being fair?
The novel is set in Omaha, Nebraska. What sort of stereotypes come to mind when imagining Omaha? Does Rowell reinforce them?
Eleanor’s mother loves her, but does not protect her. How does that impact Eleanor’s feelings about herself? Which of Eleanor’s parent’s is more responsible for her situation?
What motivates Richie to do what he does? Why does Eleanor come in for his particular abuse? Why does her mother tolerate it?
How do Richie’s repulsive comments impact Eleanor and Park’s romantic relationship?
Why doesn’t Eleanor ask for help earlier?
Eleanor’s chief teen tormentor, Tina, ends up helping her escape Richie. How did you react to that twist and what does it say about Tina‘s character?
Eleanor & Park has been challenged as inappropriate by parents at some schools. What aspects of the story do you think alarms those adults most?
Can first love last? Should it?
Author's Website – http://rainbowrowell.com
“True Love, Book Fights, and Why Ugly Stories Matter” by Linda Holmes – http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/09/18/223738674/true-love-book-fights-and-why-ugly-stories-matter
“Is Eleanor and Park Racist?” – http://richincolor.com/2014/03/is-eleanor-and-park-racist-and-other-questions-to-ask/
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – www.rainn.org
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Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, 2012
The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman, 2011
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, 2011
Dark Water by Laura McNeal, 2010
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, 2009
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, 2003
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky, 1999
Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, 1996
Other YA Books by the Author:
About the Author:
Rainbow Rowell writes for both teens and adults. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.