“He’d stopped trying to bring her back.She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down déjà vu.”
The story of Eleanor and Park follows dual narratives by Eleanor and Park, two misfits living in Nebraska from 1986 to 1987. They met on a school bus on Eleanor’s first day at the school and gradually connect through comic books and mix tapes of ’80s music, sparking a love story. However, their romance met many obstacles, including various family issues of Eleanor.
Overall, the language in the book is not highly-appreciated, and has even been criticized for the use of explicit vulgar words. The love is very sweet in this book and it is worth picking up the book on a sunny afternoon and simply enjoying the sparkles and passion of love within.
Social Violence Disclosure
— The book review of Eleanor and Park
Although Eleanor and Park has received some criticism since its publication, the book is still considered a great romantic novel as it reveals a great deal of social problems in the society. Aside of the beautiful love story written by Rainbow Rowell, important themes like domestic abuse, child abuse, alcoholism and school bullying also take up a lot of paragraphs of the book. Even though they are background information of the protagonists, they play very important roles in shaping the romance and affecting the destiny of the two characters. These themes are divulged along with the romance between Eleanor and Park, the two main characters, and have made the story more vivid and complete.
One of the biggest obstacles between Eleanor and Park is the domestic abuse from Eleanor’s stepfather. Laws in the United States precisely forbids domestic violence and child abuse in households, and it seems like the problem is solved by the protections from the law. However, in the novel it is revealed that the problems of child abuse are still extremely prevalent in Omaha, Nebraska, and the police is not very effective in solving these problems. In the book, there are countless times when Eleanor notices bruising on her mother’s face, which apparently result from her vehement drunkard stepdad Richie. Eleanor herself has also been abused several times by her stepdad both physically and verbally. Unfortunately, it is unlikely for the family members and victims to reach out for help from social alliances or the police as they are constantly trying to remain the domestic stability and balance, and they want to avoid conflicts( either because of the fear of the violator or of bigger sacrifices). In the novel, no one end up calling the police even when they woke up to gunshots as all previous attempts fail to resolve the problems. Eleanor tries to revolt twice, but both times she only end up hurting herself and her mom. Although the society has endeavored to help the victims from domestic abuse, it is still hard to prevent the violent people from hurting others. At the end of the book, even though “Park hated him more than he thought it was possible to hate someone”, and vows that ” I want to kill you, and I can, someone should”, he is still too kind of punish the hater.
Besides domestic violence and abuse, bullying is the other theme of this book. Eleanor is also a victim of school bullying because of her image and body. Like the main character Hannah in the salable novel Thirteen Reasons Why, there are also heartbreaking moments of bullying for Eleanor. In Thirteen Reasons Why, the bullying process occurred consecutively, silently, and endlessly; In Eleanor and Park, however, everything happens in a very direct way. People laugh at Eleanor’s body shape, throw her clothes in toilets and cover her locker with pads and write abusive words on them with red sharpies. Along with these bullying pranks, there are other intangible bullying that people could even be unaware of, which include ridicule, alienation, indirect judgments, and the spread of destructive rumors. These actions hurt as much as the punches. Unfortunately, no matter which ways people are being bullied, it takes a lot recover from the trauma and to truly forget, forgive and move on.
When facing different social problems, people should always reach out to someone. Like Eleanor who is able to share her stories with Park and accept help, victims should always find the proper people to talk to and find solutions. Thanks to this book, people are informed with these horrible domestic and social violence, and hopefully people will start on the way of preventing them.
Information: Eleanor and Park– Rainbow Rowell
Date:5/10/2018 revised in June 2019
revision comment: In this book review I changed passive-tone expressions to active-tone expressions, and the differences in the meaning and power of the sentences changed a lot.