As Anna noted, Eleanor and Park are still protecting their nascent relationship from the outside world. Even though Park has been increasingly demonstrative with his feelings— he kicked someone in the face on Eleanor’s behalf and it doesn’t get more real than that— they both have reservations about going public. Their “ask anybody” bit is a sweet way of saying “I’m proud to be with you,” but the truth is that they still have a long way to go. To Eleanor, “thinking about going out with Park, in public, was kind of like thinking about taking your helmet off in space” (173). In these chapters, Eleanor and Park are getting braver.
Even after a cold reception from Park’s mom, Eleanor is ready to pay another visit to Park’s “home planet” (164). As they approach the door, she apologizes for her unusual outfit (which broke my heart), but she’s not sorry enough to make an excuse and bolt. I was so proud of Eleanor in this section. She is well aware that Park’s mom hates her— primarily for superficial reasons, which, let’s be honest, can hurt the most sometimes— yet she puts on a brave, friendly face and comes back every day. By the end of the week, she’s willing to stay for dinner and a movie. Park can’t believe she agreed and probably also can’t believe that his parents extended the invitation. He sees the strain behind her politeness and marvels that she’s able to say things like “Thanks for dinner!” and “Good night!” without sounding sarcastic. She is totally drained at the end of the night, but she’s making progress and, obviously, she feels Park is worth it. After such an effort, no wonder he couldn’t wait to kiss her.
So, about that kiss. I’m so lucky that my assigned chapters have featured two big milestones so far. I got the hand holding last time and now I get their first kiss. What stands out to me as I reread the book is that Park is not quite the romantic underdog I remember; he’s a very competent flirt. I knew he had some experience from his Tina days, but he really has moves! He pulls Eleanor into the shadows and says “next time, I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, duck behind these bushes with me, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t kiss you’” (166). Are you kidding me? Park, you’re a natural. I also love the scene in Chapter 21 (sorry, I’m dipping back into Anna’s territory) when she hands him the Beatles tape and he pins her hand to his chest and holds it there. If anyone reading this is looking for a move, that’s a great one. It would work on me.
- I noticed for the first time that Park wears a gray trench and black high tops and I got excited that he wears Lloyd Dobler’s outfit. Then I did some googling and realized I was misremembering Lloyd Dobler’s outfit. Still, maybe it’s a loose homage?
- I love Ms. Dunne, the overeager guidance counselor who makes everything about her. Don’t we all know one of those people? “Oh, there’s an emergency? This is my time to shine!”
In Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Amy has just suffered the loss of her father and is finishing her junior year of high school alone in California (her mom has already moved to Connecticut for a fresh start). When the time comes for Amy to make the big move, she hitches a ride with Roger, a 19-year-old family friend she barely knows. The premise of this novel, like E&P‘s bus rides, provides a reason for them to be stuck together and eventually have some great conversations. The story unfolds through receipts, playlists, and pages from a travel journal, as the pair ditch their parentally determined itinerary and get to know each other. Like E&P, it’s a sweet romance that’s built on a believable friendship.