Thoughts On “Eleanor & Park”

Here is a book on teenage love. Love where you’re not driving yourself nuts thinking of the questions that are, to some people, important; to others, unnecessary. The types of questions that hurt when they are difficult to answer. “Are we compatible? Do we have a future together?”

Eleanor is a girl who has been through a lot, and is still going through a lot. She’s battling with poverty, bullying, and abusive parents. In this lonely chapter of her life all she has to hold on to is the boy on the bus, Park. Park, for the most part of the book, is clueless about the intensity of the difficulties in Eleanor’s life. He does just what she needs though, unconditionally loves her and makes her feel good about herself.

*There may be spoilers onwards*

In the end though, Eleanor’s problems get too big for two sixteen year olds to handle, and she has to move away.

There are many things about this book that I cannot understand. I did love this book, it kept me up at night, it was a bittersweet sort of love story that I appreciate to come across once in a while. Nevertheless I think I read through it without thinking too critically of it. And when I think through it, I do not understand.

What I do not understand the most is, why on Earth does Eleanor not even open Park’s letters in the end? I’ve read people’s opinions that she needed to muster a lot of courage to make even that tiny contact with him. It does not make sense to me. Wasn’t Park always her safe harbor? Was he not convincing enough when he said he hoped their relationship wouldn’t end with this? Were the hundreds of letters he wrote to her not enough proof that he wanted to keep in touch? Why does he not call him, when it’s so convenient, when she has her own phone line in her room, even? Did she not think that ghosting him like this would break his heart? Well, it broke mine.

And of course, I also have on my mind the same question as everyone else. What were the three words? I think it was a clever move on Rowell’s part to not reveal them in the end. I like to think the words are from the last issue of Watchmen. The words that Park wonders what Eleanor would think of, “Nothing ever ends.”

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