Eleanor and Park – A Book Review


I purchased this book on Audible for a long flight to Hawaii over six months ago, however, due to a back injury, I had to upgrade to first class and I took advantage of all the good movies available. Therefore, I did not actually listen to this book until my recent flight to Puerto Rico.

I had no idea what I had missed out on. Eleanor and Park. I laughed…a lot. I cried…a lot. I couldn’t put my earbuds down to get anything done my first day in San Juan. When the Wi-Fi went down at my Airbnb spot in Ponce, I was actually happy to shut my laptop and pick up right where I had left off in the story.

This book is based in 1986 and both characters were the same age that I was at the time. So there’s that. Regardless, anyone who is or has ever been a teenager can identify with the awkwardness of those years as well as the teen angst of first love.

Eleanor is the “new girl” at school, a complete misfit. Not necessarily because she wants to be. It is mainly due to being so poor that she doesn’t even own a toothbrush. Her MacGyver approach to this is admirable. Eleanor appears to be comfortable in her own skin. But this is, of course, a front.

Park, being half Korean, half Caucasian also feels like a misfit. However, unlike Eleanor, he grew up in their neighborhood. This at least benefits his acceptance of others in school. Just barely.

Their relationship is hardly love at first site. Eleanor and Park are so completely different, yet they share the same seats on the daily bus ride to school. Neither are happy about it and don’t even talk for several weeks. They both have incredibly harsh words to describe each other. These words, of course, are only in their minds, as they won’t even acknowledge each other out loud.

I really need to get my nails done…Anyway, this relationship develops in an extremely slow fashion. Park first realizes Eleanor is reading his comic books over his shoulder. He begins to read them slower, to make sure she is able to catch every word. They begin to bond over comics, The Smiths, and Joy Division.

I found many “interpretations” on YouTube but this one was the best so far:

But Eleanor is living in a dangerously dysfunctional home. Her step-father despises her and it only increases when he is drunk – which is most of the time. Park, has the normal father-son difficulties but is otherwise in a far more functioning household. Park’s parents are just about the only couple still married in the neighborhood.

These two youngsters connect in such a slow, deep, and quiet manner you wonder if they are ever going to kiss. The reader (or listener in my case) will not be disappointed. Though, with the continually rising tension in Eleanor’s home, it is difficult to see this story ending well. The anticipation is fierce for the reader.

One of their best conversations:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.

So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be, she says, we’re 16.

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.

Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be.

The finale, like their relationship, is a long process. Sometimes painful, sometimes humorous. All the while, worth taking a good…long…time to read.

Stay Blissful My Friends. – E


The Pink Pants


Mom is on her way to the mall and asks me if I want anything. Hmm…I have been living in Levi 501’s and flannels for most of the year. “Something pink.” I reply, not even knowing what I am asking for besides color. But my mom is good at figuring this stuff out.

She returns with a really cute pair of pink pants. They actually make me smile. A sober smile at the moment since I haven’t drank or drugged for a few days. Not because I don’t want to, the opportunity did not present itself to me. My mom has also bought a pretty, white ruffled top that might be a bit too tight around the chest. I don’t complain. It shows a little cleavage, just enough that I can get away with wearing it at the age of 13.

I meet up with my boyfriend at Petit Park later that afternoon. “What’s with the pink?” he asks. I shrug my shoulders. “Cute.”, he says. We hold hands and walk through the park not saying much. It is a mild spring day in Granada Hills, CA. Not a cloud in the sky, a strong sun, yet there is a soft breeze that keeps it from becoming too hot. Though if you were in a car, the heat would feel smoldering. If you stand in the shade, you would get goose bumps from the chill. On days such as these, I found myself rotating from shade to sun as I attempt to achieve the perfect temperature.

My boyfriend and I think we are in love for eternity, or at least por vida. We have no idea of each other’s future journey through drug addiction and institutions. Right now we only want to be together. They say love is blind and it can be. When you are young it is blind to any view of the future. All that matters is right here, right now. I believe this to be a gift. For if we were to see what was actually coming down the pipeline, we might have chosen not to go on at all.

Just as the pink pants only lasted a season, so did we as a couple. Though for many years we kept getting back together hoping to renew that feeling. To our disappointment, time and distance did not allow for it to happen. It would be like covering the pink pants with patches. Though it may work, the fabric will be forever altered.

So we both learned to chase other things. Our individual addictions. We found this to be the best way to break up for good. No hard feelings. Always a loving hug each time we ran into each other. Though these accidental meet-ups became fewer and further between until 25 years had passed without an encounter.

I’ve become quite patched up over the years, inside and out. Never the same. Sometimes looking good for the wear, sometimes not so good. But always different. Growth is like that. Life is like that.

So we learn to be grateful for the journey. Even when we remember the beauty of what we looked like when we were brand new and without any obvious flaws, we can appreciate the patches. We can also thank our Highest Power for mending us along the span of our lives.

Have you held onto an item of clothing for many years? Might it be a representation of something greater? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Stay Blissful My Friends – E