Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park novel

A few years ago I started reading some Young Adult fiction.  At first, I felt a bit silly, given my age, but then I found out that a lot of people do it.  The one novel that really hit me hard was a book called “Eleanor & Park”, written by Rainbow Rowell.  While I don’t directly relate to either of the characters – in description or circumstance – there was something about this novel that hit me extremely hard.  Maybe I read it during a vulnerable time in my life, but it definitely struck a chord. Or maybe I could relate to Eleanor for some other reason.  One website describes her as a “round peg in a square hole”, which is how I see my life at times.

The main character Eleanor is extremely intelligent.  She stands out in a crowd, physically, because of her size and her flaming red hair.  She doesn’t dress well, but we can assume that has to do with her family’s financial circumstances.  Eleanor comes from an abusive family, and is extremely self conscious.  The other main character, Park is a bit of an outsider.  Park is Korean and also doesn’t seem to fit in.  But, unlike Eleanor, Park likes to showcase his differences and doesn’t seem to care what others think.

Again, I don’t really have a reason to relate to this novel.  But I cried like a baby for what seemed like the last quarter.  Eleanor and Park, as you can imagine, become friends…. and then more than friends.  Their love seems pure.  Only wanting what is best for the other person.  Maybe my favourite quote of the novel (and maybe the reason I fell in love with it) showcases the intensity of their relationship, and their unadulterated love. Park thinks, “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.”  He could see deep inside her.  He understood that there was something more to her than the way she looked, or the circumstances she came from.  And he loved her anyway.


Isn’t that what we all want?  Maybe that’s what stole my heart about this novel.  The innocence of two kids, able to find each other in a seemingly awful situation.  This is a lesson for us all.  For any of you out there in a relationship, if you truly care about the other person, nothing else should matter.  Which is also a bit naive.  Relationships get more complicated, the older you get.  But do they have to?  Maybe the reason it was so easy for Eleanor and Park is because they didn’t have the past to cling to.  For better or for worse.  They didn’t know any better.  They were able to open their hearts to each other without worrying about having their hearts broken.  Or worrying about the future.  And maybe we could all learn something from them.

Relationships don’t have to be complicated.  In fact, the more complicated they are, the more likely that they probably won’t work out.  We should all go into relationships like E & P.  Like we don’t have a past.  The past may teach us valuable lessons.  But it doesn’t have to define us.  And it certainly should not be part of our future.  I am going to take a page, literally, from this novel and put more of an effort into myself and into my relationship in an attempt to be more present.

By Staff Writer

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