Eleanor & Park 46-50: Radioactive

How quickly things go from intensely wonderful to horrifyingly bad. There are a couple really short chapters in this section, but they still pack an intense punch. Chapter 47 is such a brilliant use of blank space. Eleanor is too pragmatic to waste time coming up with desperate, far-fetched scenarios—she just gets out. And her description of Richie and the way he regards her in Chapter 49 is absolutely chilling. I can’t stop rereading it—it’s just too horrifying. “Like he’ll get around to me” (288) is probably the line that gets to me the most. There’s so much understood privilege packed into that sentence. Richie views Eleanor as his property and assumes that she’ll be there whenever he decides it’s time—because it’s his right and no on will stop him.

It’s almost jarring to see Tina and Steve act like actual, decent people in this section. Before they were Eleanor’s tormentors, but now they’re all co-conspirators. It’s still pretty clear that Eleanor and Tina would never be BFFs, but outside of school with Richie and stepdads in general as a common enemy, Tina shows that she’s capable of kindness. Poor Park is still reveling in the glory of their date. He has no idea that everything is about to come crashing down. But because he’s Park, he rises to the challenge.

Other Things

  • I like how Park’s first reaction to seeing Eleanor with Tina and Steve is that they must be holding Eleanor hostage.
  • “She looked like a vision there, a mermaid.” (284) Best compliment ever?
  • I have a line in my notes that just says “Park—swoon.” It’s always true.
  • The only thing she wants from her house is Park’s picture.

A Recommendation

If you’re not too disturbed after reading this section of Eleanor & Park, try This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Like Eleanor, Sloane just wants to escape her home life. Her older sister ran away six months ago, leaving Sloane alone with her abusive father. She decides that suicide is her only way out, but on the day she plans to take her own life the zombie apocalypse hits. Sloane finds herself reluctantly surviving with a group of five other teens as they barricade themselves in the high school. This book is less of a story about zombies and more about trauma and how people manage to keep going when it seems like there’s no hope. Like all of Courtney Summers’s novels, it’s brutal in the best way.

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