Eleanor & Park 16-20: You Make Me Feel Like a Cannibal

As Anna and Christine have noted in their posts, we’ve seen the drastic difference between Eleanor and Park’s home lives and the depth of Richie’s abusiveness. In this section, we see how Eleanor’s life could have been more like Park’s when she goes to her dad’s to babysit.  Staying at her dad’s means access to a record player, plenty of food in the fridge, and, most importantly, a phone for calling Park.

While her dad isn’t as bad a Richie, he’s not a real winner either. It’s not just that her dad never bothered to find out that Eleanor was exiled from her home for a year, or that he only invites Eleanor and not his three other children. These facts alone would be enough to convey how he’s failed as a father, but Rowell layers on the details to really sell it—like how he made clam chowder for everyone but he didn’t have enough bowls, so Eleanor ate her soup out of a cocktail glass (97) or that Eleanor pities his girlfriend because her dad only laughs at his own jokes (115).

Their phone conversation is so great. They can say things to each other over the phone that they would never say in person, and not just because they’re finally talking to each other where no one can overhear. Their true feelings keep slipping out. Eleanor tells Park that she thinks he’s cool and admits things about her home life that she’d be too embarrassed to say in person.  Park tells Eleanor that she reminds him of Dirty Harry and blurts out that he loves her.

Other Things

  • Yet another reason why I might be Park—I also had a twin-sized waterbed in the 80s (and for most of the 90s).
  • I hate Park’s friend Cal. The Kim trap is gross.
  • It’s so distressing when Park thinks about how he could just ease away from Eleanor. It would be so awful.
  • I love that they both think Saturdays are the worst.

A Recommendation

Since Eleanor and Park read a lot of comics, I though I would recommend one of my favorite graphic novels, Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. There’s just something about Hicks’ drawing style that I really like. Maggie used to be homeschooled, but now it’s time to go to high school like her three older brothers. Maggie befriends siblings Lucy and Alistair–Alistair used to be one of the popular volleyball players (yes, male volleyball players!), but now he and Lucy are outcasts. Park would be very into Alistair’s punk aesthetic. There is also a ghost!

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