Eleanor and Park
Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of Pages: 336
Advertised Age Level: not specified, Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16 years
Language: includes profanity, limited use of the “f” word
Sex: kissing, vague references to petting
Drug/Alcohol Use: parental drinking and alcoholism, some kids drink beer, references to smoking pot
Violence: main character is subjected to physical abuse, main character gets into a fight
Social Issues: bullying, child abuse, first love
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Eleanor is a social outcast at school from the moment she first steps on the bus and no one will share a seat with her. Thankfully, Park, a guy who faces his own social issues, feels pity and moves over to make room. Over the course of a school year, Eleanor and Park move from never speaking to each other to a tentative friendship and finally an overwhelming true love.
But many problems stand in their way. Eleanor’s home life is a living hell. Her hapless mother has married an abusive, alcoholic man who inflicts physical, mental, and emotional abuse on Eleanor, her younger brothers and sister and her mother. She fears for her safety if he were to ever learn that she has a boyfriend. Park’s father is judgmental and struggles to accept a son who prefers comic books and alternative music to sports and driving. Eleanor suffers endless bullying at school for being different, and even Park’s kind-hearted mother finds it hard to accept a girl who is so prickly and awkward.
Even as Park and Eleanor grow to love each other, Eleanor’s home life becomes more perilous.
Potential Points of Concern
Eleanor is bullied by other girls who play very mean and cruel tricks on her. They flush her clothes down the toilet during gym class and tape feminine pads to her locker in a play on her nickname “Big Red” which she is called because of her red hair and large chest.
Eleanor’s stepfather is physically, emotionally and mentally abusive to everyone in the family. He writes obscene things on her school books, and it is implied that he has intentions to sexually abuse Eleanor. She has been so emotionally damaged by this situation that she feels no one could ever think well of her.
Eleanor’s real father is a user who wants nothing to do with his children unless he needs them for something. Her mother is a helpless victim who puts up with her husband’s abuse and allows him to abuse her children.
Eleanor lives in abject poverty. She is forced to brush her teeth at school using salt and her finger because she doesn’t have a toothbrush.
Park kicks a boy in the face when he makes fun of Eleanor. The boy then punches Park, who gets suspended for fighting.
Parks father does not approve when Park begins wearing black eyeliner. Some people suggest that Park may be gay, but he isn’t.
Park and Eleanor kiss, and vague references are made to make-out sessions that involve petting. Nothing is graphically described.
Park and Eleanor have a vague conversation about having sex but they do not.
Age Appropriateness: 14 +