Tag Archives: Christine

Attachments 41-45: A giant shot of momentum

Lincoln joins a gym the day after the revelation that he is Beth’s Cute Guy. What a coincidence. I know he had mentioned the possibility before, but still. . . that’s adorable. He also spent 20 minutes combing his hair before work. ADORABLE. Beth has unwittingly reminded him that it’s possible for people to notice him. It’s the jolt he needed to start taking care of himself a bit more. She already finds him to be “very cute, kind, and compassionate— and also sort of funny,” so imagine what she’ll think of a guy like that who also goes to gym. And has the most beautifully combed hair. He’ll be unstoppable.

Lincoln apparently can’t wait to find out if he actually looks like Jason Bateman, so he drops in at the bank to talk to Eve. “Do you want to look like Jason Bateman?” she asks, cautiously supportive of whatever this is (148). That really made me laugh. I wonder where Eve’s mind went when it seemed that Lincoln really wanted to look like Jason Bateman, with absolutely no context. She confirms the resemblance, except she notes that Lincoln’s “a lot bigger than he is” (148). When Eve echoes Beth’s swoony observation about his size, Lincoln just has to leave, presumably before his huge, goofy smile draws too much attention. It’s great to read about giddy Lincoln right after those heartbreaking Sam chapters.

We also get a reality check amid the giddiness. Lincoln now feels weird checking the WebFence folder in front of others, even though that task is practically his entire job description.  Clearly it’s become a ritual that he cherishes, which is not a healthy development. He knows that, but with all the recent talk of his cuteness, stopping will be harder than ever.  He’s also learning that Beth’s love life is not as solid as it seems, which is surely giving him hope, even though it will really complicate things if he ever does meet Beth. Beth’s discussion of her now impossible love-and-marriage timeline is so personal; it’s painful to think that her Cute Guy is reading it without her knowing. Lincoln’s really dug a hole for himself.

Stray thoughts

  • Update on the presence in Jennifer’s womb: it “is going to change — possibly destroy — the world as [she knows] it” (150). I love Jennifer so much.
  • Lincoln’s mother’s suspicion about his new gym habit is one of my favorite things. “As if people should go around looking at each other and thinking, ‘My body is so far superior to yours'” (152).

A Recommendation (sort of)

Armageddon was on TV during the writing of this post and I decided to take it as a sign that I should focus on Beth and Jennifer’s movie crushes, Ben Affleck and Colin Firth.  I headed over to IMDb to check out what these two were up to in 1999.

Ben Affleck is such a perfectly 1999 crush.  It was just two years after Good Will Hunting, when we all still had faith in him and he was so, so dreamy. Armageddon was the worst, but we all just thought, “every rising star has to make a dumb blockbuster. He won’t let us down again.”  Oh, well.

Colin Firth had done the Pride & Prejudice miniseries, The English Patient (snooze) and Shakespeare in Love (also with Ben Affleck!).  He was in something called The Secret Laughter of Women in 1999, which seems to be available on YouTube. It doesn’t look great, but that title is drawing me in. If I don’t report back in the comments, assume it was terrible. Anyway, I guess I’m recommending that we all watch some late 90’s Colin Firth. My favorite is Pride & Prejudice, which has a double wedding scene that would surely warrant a two-star upgrade from Beth.

Tagged , ,

Attachments 26-30: This is a workplace.

Beth and Jennifer are really running wild now that it’s been months without a single reprimand.  Just a quick timeline check: the first email of the novel was in August and now we’re in October (“Calooh! Callay!”). Lincoln can’t give them a warning at this point and he certainly can’t bring himself to stop reading their flagged emails. Just from reading a few of their conversations, he can tell that they’re good people. Cool and funny and kind. I totally get that; I mean, that’s why I’m reading this book that is mostly composed of their emails. They’re awesome and I want to be friends with them.

It’s clear that Lincoln wants to be more than friends with Beth, but he tells himself that it’s just a little work crush, which I think we all need to get through the day (or night, in Lincoln’s case). He’s curious, so he visits her empty desk at night and takes in the little details. In my opinion, this behavior is right on the borderline. It’s definitely weird and a little creepy, but you could still spin it so it’s kind of sweet. Then he goes to see her boyfriend’s band at a show and I think that crosses a line. What is the ideal outcome of this little field trip? It makes me so uncomfortable. Afterwards, Beth spots her cute guy being all kinds of cute in the Advertising department and tells Jennifer all about it.  Lincoln is jealous, more so than with Chris because Chris is actually cool. He can see Chris’ appeal, but some salesman? That pisses him off. Oh, Lincoln. You’re in too deep.

Whenever I recommend this book to someone, they scoff at the synopsis on the back cover and I don’t blame them. When I focus too much on the premise of Attachments, I remember that I probably shouldn’t like this book. Or maybe this book shouldn’t be as good as it is. Everyone is so out of line! Lincoln is reading all this incredibly personal information and letting this behavior continue. And Jennifer and Beth aren’t blameless here— talking about ovulation and unprotected sex on company time, leaving a written record of it. . . are you kidding me? Just for fun, I went through the first page of chapter 30 for words that are possibly flagged: Heroin, pregnant, period, pee, womb, sex (times 2), ovulating. Actually, some of these are probably not flagged, because when would they even come up? If I was setting up WebFence, I would never think to include womb or ovulating. I have never said either of those words at work. I know that for a fact.

Stray thoughts

  • Jennifer might be pregnant! For real this time!
  • I love the casual mention that Lincoln ate two pieces of pie in one sitting. He’s so big and brawny.
  • “Just root for me” (115). Aww, Cath and Levi!
  • Razorwine is an incredible band name. Much better than Sacajawea.

A Recommendation

I’m currently reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, an ARC that’s been sitting on my nightstand for a while (a very long while— the book has been released by now, with a ton of buzz around it).  The wealthy Sinclair family has always spent its summers on a private island near Cape Cod, where the patriarch and his three daughters each have their own house (one of the houses is called Cuddledown!! Rich people are weird!). Cadence Sinclair Eastman, her two cousins, and a family friend become a tight-knit group called “the Liars.” They’re inseparable until Cadence suffers a mysterious injury during “Summer Fifteen.” She spends the next few years dealing with debilitating migraines and trying to piece together what happened that summer.

Like Beth, I’m so in love with autumn (I know that was back in Chapter 25, but stick with me here). I never need a reason to get in the autumn spirit and the other seasons just can’t compare. Especially not summer. There is a very short window of time when I can trick myself into getting excited for summer, before I remember how much I hate mosquitos and humidity. I’m right in the middle of that window right now and this book is really working for me. A great summer read needs to be dramatic and a little soapy and, if the drama unfolds in a beach setting, so much the better. We Were Liars reminds me of another dysfunctional family saga, Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, which is THE summer book as far as I’m concerned.

Tagged , ,

Attachments 11-15: This is a terrible place to meet people

Lincoln feels like going out for a change, which is probably a sign of progress.  Maybe eavesdropping on someone else’s friendship is making it harder for him to ignore how poorly socialized he is. The bar he and Justin end up at, The Steel Guitar, sounds truly terrible, but it’s still a good step for Lincoln. Going “where the girls go” (49), no matter how ridiculous that place is, at least gives him a little practice talking to people again. Interestingly, his discomfort with the venue pushes him to show more personality and spark than we’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, it’s a bit much for Lisa, who gently excuses herself. I LOVE Lincoln. Seriously, I love Lincoln like Anna loves Levi, but his little outburst about the bar/dating scene would have made me uncomfortable, too. He might have been able to save it with the garden exchange though. That was hilarious.

Beth and Chris’ story reminds me that college is pretty much the least terrible place to meet people. So much can happen at the Student Union! As we discussed in a lot of the Fangirl posts, you have to actively try not to meet people in college. Beth had all the time in the world to orchestrate run-ins with her crush. The year of dating that followed could unfold without any urgency; it was allowed to be unpredictable and directionless (but, like, in a sexy way). You guys, I miss college so much sometimes. Anyway, the story of how they met is adorable, but as for how Chris actually is as a boyfriend. . . I’m with Jennifer on this one. Chris would make me insane. All the things that made him intriguing and mysterious in college make him an infuriating, unreliable life partner.  And I have to admit, I’ve never really been into moody musician types. “Are you rolling your eyes yet?” (58). Yes, I am. Please do not slip a leaf under my door as a romantic surprise. A LEAF.

On the WebFence front, Lincoln is increasingly self-aware. He fully admits to his growing affection for these two and recognizes the way that it’s clouding his judgment. Since he knows Jennifer and Beth’s conversations are harmless and it would be weird to issue a warning at this point, Lincoln concludes that he should stop reading their emails altogether. So we’ll see how that goes.

Stray Thoughts

  • Justin is a 1999 version of Jean-Ralphio.
  • 1999: when bra straps were an integral part of your outfit! Remember those detachable patterned ones?
  • Jennifer’s email about her mother tells us so much about her. That particular mother-daughter dynamic is so fully drawn in less than two pages. It’s very impressive.

A Recommendation

In Gayle Forman’s Just One Day, serious, college-bound Allyson goes on a post-graduation European tour.  There she meets Willem, a free-spirited Dutch actor who persuades her to abandon her tour group and its tight itinerary.  Their whirlwind romance and Willem’s artsy, bohemian charm (and aversion to commitment) remind me of Beth and Chris’ younger years. A sequel, Just One Year, was released this fall. It continues the story from Willem’s perspective. He’s definitely the type to write a poem on your stomach or slip a leaf under your door.

Tagged , ,

Here I come, ready or not: Wrapping up Fangirl

Anna, Emily, and I were a bit relieved when it was time for the Fangirl phase of the blog.  We struggled a bit with Eleanor & Park, mainly because we love it so much. Certain aspects of E&P (domestic abuse, bullying, issues of race and class) are so heavy and important and we didn’t know if our little blog was the right place for those discussions. And, to be perfectly honest, there were times when I wasn’t sure if my little brain was equipped to do them justice.  So we were happy to move away from that pressure, self-imposed though it was (because, really is anyone reading this?). Fangirl, with its adorable pastel cover, its quirky, nerdy heroine, and its clever winks to the Harry Potter fandom, would give us a break. However, I had forgotten what an incredibly touching and sensitive book this is.

I love that Rowell treats Cath’s social anxiety as a valid part of who she is. Her shy, reserved nature is what makes her Cath; it’s not something that needs to be fixed so she can be more like Wren. Yes, she grows a great deal during her freshman year, but she’ll never be a social butterfly and that’s OK. This sums up why I love Fangirl so much: “In new situations all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you and the ones you can’t google” (15). Did I feel that way as a college freshman in a new city?  You bet. That was expected. But do I still feel like that at least once a day EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE? Yup. We all have those moments when we feel like we’re the only one who didn’t get the memo and I’ve never seen that feeling expressed so perfectly before.

Cath’s social anxiety is also never dismissed as a side effect of being part of the internet generation.  Fangirl treats fandom culture and online socializing with respect and sensitivity. I’m sure that anyone reading this post knows how it feels to love a fictional world and its inhabitants to the point that you never want to let them go. And maybe we all spend a little too much time hunched over a laptop, but so does Rainbow Rowell!  In the acknowledgements, Rowell mentions her own relationship to fandom and expresses her admiration for fanfiction writers.  If that isn’t enough proof that she really gets it, just check out her active Tumblr and Twitter. She’s always reblogging fan art (how amazing are these?) and will even make earnest contributions to “fancastingdiscussions about the inevitable movie adaptations of her novels. No wonder she’s not judging us in Fangirl— she’s totally one of us.

Next week Emily will get us started with Attachments! In the meantime, enjoy some fanart to get in the spirit!

Tagged , ,

Fangirl 31-33: You know I’m falling in love with you, right?

Levi has been trying to get Cath up to his room—not in a creepy way. More in a “let’s get some distance from Reagan” way.  Cath is hesitant, mostly because she likes Levi too much and is afraid of getting carried away. After promising that Cath can set the pace, Levi makes a final plea: “Come home with me. I miss you. And I don’t want to say goodnight” (365). I mean, who could say no to that?

Cath’s plan is to hold Levi to his hands-off promise and take it slow. Unfortunately for her, Levi’s room is a perfect little love den. It’s at the tippy top of the house, “practically in the trees. Practically enchanted” (368). Up in the sexy eagle’s nest, Cath learns that while Levi genuinely likes her fanfiction, he really loves the effect it has on her. With something else to focus on, they can relax and snuggle on his shiny turquoise loveseat without any weirdness. Not wanting to break the spell, he asks her to keep reading, but Cath is ready to move forward without any distractions. She still wants to take it slow, but she knows she can trust Levi with her first time when she’s ready.

These chapters are almost entirely Levi goodness, but there is a little bit of twin sister re-bonding. Wren is back and Cath’s world is “right side up” again (384). It was so sweet to hear from Jandro that even when they were growing apart, Wren would still drop everything to read Carry On. Now that things have settled down between them, Wren can tease Cath about her ironic ability to write gay love scenes despite her real life inexperience. It’s light and sisterly instead of pointed and cutting. Cath finally feels safe sharing her love life with Wren, who seems so pleased that her sister has found someone who challenges and excites her. No more end tables for Cath. Levi is “bright and warm and crackling—he was a human campfire” (388). So he’s not a kitschy lamp, but I was on the right track.

Stray Thoughts

  • I like that we get a bit more insight into why Cath writes fanfiction. GTL doesn’t give Baz what Cath thinks he deserves, so she’s compelled to expand the character on her own terms.
  • Reagan’s inexplicable discomfort with twins continues. She literally can’t tell Cath and Wren apart and can hardly bear to see them together. “It’s like The Shining in here” (386).

A Recommendation

It’s hard for me to come up with a relevant recommendation this week because I’m in the middle of a Landline ARC!!!!!! You guys, getting back to Landline is pretty much all I can think about.

One thing I can say to connect it to Fangirl (without revealing anything, of course), is that I love how Rainbow Rowell writes physical descriptions of characters. They’re always imperfect and specific and very real. In Levi’s case (and in that of a certain Landline character), those details make him all the more dreamy. His slightly doughy chin, his receding hairline, his premature eye wrinkles, his expressive brows— these are all things you would note with affection if you were falling in love with someone.

 

Tagged , ,

Fangirl 22-24: I’m rooting for you

Cath is reluctantly entering her second semester of college. Actually, not so much reluctantly as accidentally. Or unconsciously. I love the way Rowell describes Cath drifting back to school as a series of small decisions— before she knew it she was back in the dorm. Whenever I’ve had to do something big and scary and seemingly impossible to tackle (moving away from home, starting a new job, anything to do with public speaking), the build-up was worse than actually doing it. I mean, that’s what anxiety is. Looking ahead at what you have to do feels like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and trying to figure out how to jump across it. But once it’s time to do it, you can focus on taking one tiny step at a time, which is much less scary than taking a giant leap.

With everything that’s on Cath’s mind this semester, all I can say is thank goodness for Reagan. She wasn’t lying about making Levi keep his distance and she doesn’t let it become this weird thing between her and Cath. She just keeps those two relationships separate without letting any signs of strain or awkwardness show. And once Levi is back in the picture, Reagan takes the news of his impending date with Cath totally in stride: “Good for you,” she says. No, good for you, Reagan. You’re the best. I also love how she absorbs Cath’s emotional baggage without any fanfare. Upon hearing that Cath’s mom left when she was little, she simply says “that is crazy.” No follow-up questions, no prying for juicy details. She’s such a good fit for a private person like Cath. Sometimes the university housing lottery just gets it right.

Levi’s back! And he’s here to say that it wasn’t just a kiss (swoon). His little speech about wanting a second chance is so sweet and I love the concept of Cath needing to root for him in order for their relationship to move forward. It’s a way of making sure they’re on the same page without putting pressure on Cath to make a concrete decision. So is she rooting for him? Of course she is, and so are we! And he’s rooting for her too, which is exactly what she needs to hear right now.

Stray Thoughts

  • Cath’s observation about Ugg boots is genius.
  • Someone carved the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” into a bathroom stall door in Andrews Hall. Eyeroll. The most pretentious graffiti could always be found in the English department bathroom at my college.
  • As a slightly self-hating English major (see above eyeroll), I was squirming throughout Professor Piper’s pep talk to Cath. “There’s nothing more profound than creating something out of nothing. . . That’s what makes a god” (261). You guys, stuff like this is why writers are almost always insufferable ego-monsters (not you, Rainbow).
Tagged , ,

Fangirl 13-15: What would I do at your party?

Cath isn’t trying to make friends, but it’s hard not to in the super social college environment.  Even if she does want to ignore her well-meaning classmates, she can’t pull that off— she’s no Reagan.  Despite having some new friendly faces in her life, the only people she spends time with outside of class (I’m not counting Nick since they hang out in the context of a class assignment) are still Reagan and Levi, who she says are “more like sponsors than friends” (143). It’s more than a little sad to me that Cath can’t recognize the genuine affection behind Reagan and Levi’s actions.  Cath, they’re not just tolerating you. They’re not just distantly amused by your fangirling.  You have a personality and talents and opinions and it’s possible that they actually like you! It’s clear that Cath’s view of herself and her social persona come from being a twin.  Cath considers herself the uninteresting, expendable part of the “package deal,” at least in real life situations (FanFixx.net is another story). “What would I do at your party, Levi?” (145) is kind of a hilarious question, but she might as well be asking “who am I without Wren?” which is really a bummer.

These chapters also shed some light on Cath’s family issues. We learn more about how tough it was for her and Wren when their mother left, which is why Wren’s willingness to give their mom a second chance feels like such a betrayal.  On the tail of the bar-tastrophe, Wren’s decision to keep it a secret for so long, only to let Cath be blindsided on Thanksgiving, must really sting.  She’s left to process this bombshell without her usual confidant, her other half, and, in typical Cath fashion, she responds by “acting in.” The quiet Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV pretending nothing is wrong is, again, a huge bummer.

In happier news, back at school, Levi and Cath get a little closer when he confides in her about his difficulty with reading and she helps him prepare for a test. Oh, and they kiss in her bed.  No big deal. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Stray thoughts

  • Um, can we please read more of “Shall We?” by Magicath? What a tease!
  • Freshman months really are like dog months. So much growth in such a short time!

A Recommendation

Reread The Outsiders, preferably with a cute, sleepy boy leaning on your shoulder.  S.E. Hinton wrote it while she was in high school, which I’m sure would earn her much respect from a prolific young writer like Cath.

Tagged , ,

Fangirl 4-6: I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend

Poor Cath is still having a tough time adjusting, and the fact that college life seems to suit Wren perfectly doesn’t help at all. How brutal was that phone call? Cath has clearly interrupted something and Wren has no intention of including her. She’s being inside-jokey and weird and subtly cruel.  Like, why did you even pick up the phone at all, Wren? GOD.

Probably because she always had Wren, Cath doesn’t seem to have any hometown friends she’s missing.  Actually, we do hear about Abel the end table. Apparently they’ve been dating (“dating”) for three years, but according to Wren, Cath has “stronger feelings for Baz and Simon” than for Abel (35).  If Abel is an end table, then what is Levi? Some kind of cool, kitschy lamp? A handmade afghan? I don’t know, but he’s sunny and pleasant and hard to ignore.  Even though Levi is the first person she met at school, Cath’s first real college friend turns out to be the mysterious Reagan.  Upon finding a trashcan full of evidence of Cath’s freaky eating habits, Reagan guides her into the world of dormitory dining and people-watching. I love that when she realizes the extent of Cath’s anxiety, she immediately checks that Cath has been going to class. So unexpectedly maternal.  Another burgeoning friendship (and creative partnership) is with Nick, an older boy from her writing class. With just a few details, Rainbow tells us exactly who Nick is. Periwinkle wingtips. English major. We all knew this guy in college.

When Nick wants reassurance that his essay isn’t lame, Cath says “I’m not sure what you want me to say now” (37). She doesn’t get the cue to politely tell him that his dumb pen essay is actually great.  It’s not surprising that she’s a little rusty, since her only real friendship has been with her sister, and sibling relationships don’t necessarily translate to great social skills. You can be ugly and moody and awful to your sister and she still has to love you. Cath is out of practice (or maybe completely inexperienced with) cultivating friendships with strangers.  Like Cath, I would rather rest on a few fully broken-in, comfortable friendships than try to make new ones.  Having just relocated (um, 5 months ago), leaving behind a city and friends I love, I identify with Cath in a way that I didn’t the first time I read Fangirl.  I’m actually jealous of her situation though, because everyone is trying to make friends in college. You have to actively try not to make friends in the first weeks of freshman year, which is exactly what Cath is doing when she avoids eye contact with people on her hall and declines Levi’s invitation to Muggsy’s. She’s making progress though.

Stray thoughts

  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight Anna’s favorite line, the physical description of Nick: “He looked like someone with a steerage ticket on the Titanic” (37).  Amazing.
  • Cath’s reaction to the idea that they might have to read their work aloud cracked me up.  In my first college writing class, we had to do that every single week. I thought I would get used to it eventually, but, nope, it was just the worst from beginning to end.  Once I asked if there would ever be a week where we could do our assignments without that pressure looming over us and the professor laughed at me.
  • I picture Reagan as some kind of alternate universe Eleanor. She carries an unspecified number of extra pounds, she’s buxom, and she has awesome red hair. She’s not sweet, she’s sarcastic and snippy, but she’s still super lovable. Did anyone else’s mind go there?

A Recommendation

One of my favorite college-set novels is Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. It’s about four freshmen–excuse me, freshpeople— at Smith College who meet on their dorm hall and become extremely close.  Of course, the dynamics of their foursome shift throughout their college years and their bond is tested in what they call their “freshman year of life.” I have big problems with this book, but I can never stay mad at it.  It’s one of only a few that I own and reread frequently, so there must be something right about it.

Tagged , ,

Eleanor & Park 55-58: Just three words long

These final chapters are so sweet and sad.  Eleanor is adjusting to her new life with her aunt and uncle. Park is sleepwalking through junior year, eventually becoming numb to the sting of Eleanor’s silence. As much as I feel Park’s pain, I’m just so relieved for Eleanor.  She has new clothes that fit and her own boombox and blank tapes. And unlimited postage stamps! Someone cares enough to make her go to school and even drives her there every day. Her home life has gone from a tense tightrope walk to a peaceful sanctuary overnight. No wonder it takes her a full year to reach out to Park; I’m sure she’s barely been able to catch her breath. 

Eleanor & Park drew controversy when a school visit was cancelled due to parent complaints about the book’s content. To no one’s surprise, Rowell’s response was poignant, intelligent, and articulate: “When these people call Eleanor & Park an obscene story, I feel like they’re saying that rising above your situation isn’t possible. That if you grow up in an ugly situation, your story isn’t even fit for good people’s ears. That ugly things cancel out everything beautiful.” Clearly, Rowell means this story to be about hope. Even in the middle of Park’s non-showdown with Richie, perhaps the darkest point of Park’s life so far, we are reminded of the best thing in life. Park is sure that he could never feel anything as strongly as the hate he feels for Richie. . .  almost.  What’s unsaid is how much more powerful his love for Eleanor is. 

We don’t need to know what the three words on that postcard are (although, sidenote to Rainbow: I won’t be mad if you want to tell me).  We don’t need a sequel detailing their picture perfect reunion. It’s enough to know that the characters we love are okay for now— and to believe that they are headed back toward the highest of highs. 

A Recommendation

 In Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now, Doug Swieteck, a fourteen-year-old self-proclaimed “skinny thug,” has just moved to a new town, but somehow his family’s bad reputation has followed them. His father has just been fired and he expresses his frustration through violence; his cruel behavior is echoed by Doug’s troubled older brother, who seems perfectly happy being known as the town bully. On top of that, Doug is misunderstood by his teachers and prejudged by his peers. So, where does he eventually find an ally? His local public library, of course.

 I immediately thought of this book when I heard Rowell’s comments about the E&P controversy. I love Doug’s incredible optimism in a terrible situation. Mr. Powell, the librarian, gives Doug a chance to hone his talent and assures him that his circumstances don’t define him. Like Eleanor & Park, it’s not a story about love turning someone’s life around and obliterating all that’s bad in the world. It’s about the modest but beautiful changes that the approval and encouragement of just one person can create in another person’s life. 

Tagged , ,

Eleanor & Park 41-45: I did this to him

In these chapters we see the aftermath of the gymsuit sighting, and it’s not at all what Eleanor expected.  As Anna discussed so beautifully, Eleanor can’t imagine anyone being attracted to her, let alone someone as dreamy as Park.  Of course she mistook Park’s dumbstruck reaction as repulsion, but we learn that it was anything but that. Afterwards, he’s totally preoccupied by all of her “negative space” (LOVE that description) and “that long white zipper” (245), so he can hardly keep his hands off her when they finally reunite in private. Eleanor keeps trying to be embarrassed of her body when she’s pressed against him, but she’s enjoying herself too much to care.

We learn that Park has self-image problems of his own. Even though it seems like plenty of girls are attracted to him (Tina, the record store clerk, our girl Eleanor), he has doubts about his appeal and those doubts are tied up with his race. He complains, “everything that makes Asian girls seem exotic makes Asian guys seem like girls” (272) and I’m sure his dad’s He-Man attitude isn’t helping.  Like Eleanor, he sees the thing he’s most insecure about as his main identifier; he’s so sure that all anyone sees when they look at him is his Korean-ness. Eleanor assures him that the first thing she sees is his cuteness, and if she does see his Korean-ness (you guys, I know it’s not a word, but I’m sticking with it), she definitely doesn’t see it as a bad thing.

Anna said, “the closer that she and Park are, the harder it is to separate her feelings for Park from her feelings about herself.”  Now her feelings about herself are being influenced for the better by Park’s love for her, and the same goes for him.  It’s so much easier to face the world and relax in your identity when you feel totally adored by someone.  These chapters are so sweet because we’re seeing the first signs of that phase of love.  Again, it’s like we somehow planned that I get all the swoony, adorable chapters. I just glanced ahead at Chapter 46 and I’m really not ready to leave the happy place yet. Have fun with that, Emily!

Stray Thoughts

  • Oddly, I’ve had that same conversation about being sweet (p. 259). The verdict was that I’m not sweet.
  • For Park, part of the appeal of going to prom with Eleanor is that he can “help his mom do her hair” (270).  I’m sure that would make Eleanor so uncomfortable, but it made me smile.
  • I love Eleanor’s goofy, happy thoughts about Park, like how watching him change lanes really gets her going. Even though she can’t help but be her snarky, un-sweet self on the outside, we know she’s over the moon and it’s so lovely to read.

A Recommendation

This week I’ve been rereading one of my all-time favorites, Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters.  I probably subconsciously reached for it because we’re getting pummeled with snow here in New England and it just feels right to read a book with deck chairs on the cover.  This book, which I should mention is NOT a YA book, follows Vix and Caitlin from sixth grade (but seriously, NOT YA) to their twenties. Vix Leonard considers herself to be an ordinary kid until bohemian, wealthy Caitlin Somers invites her to spend the summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her family. Caitlin is the kind of wild, charismatic person who can make you feel special just by acknowledging your existence, but eventually the magic wears thin and Vix has to come to terms with how their complicated relationship has shaped her, for better or worse. Summer Sisters is really about the friendship, but the reason I’m pairing it with these E&P chapters (besides the fact that I’m too immersed in it to think of another recommendation) is that it perfectly captures the giddy obsession of first love and the nervous excitement of early sexual experiences. This is a sexy, soapy saga and I will reread it at least once a year until the day I die.  Just try it—when has Judy ever let you down?

Tagged , ,