Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reader Response: Eleanor & Park Pt. 5

Continued free-form reader response to Eleanor & Park for my Teen Materials class.

** Spoilers everywhere! ** 

Chapter Twenty-Eight

*shrug* Nice stuff.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Lubby dubby stuff.

Chapter Thirty

"But he kept finding new pockets of shallow inside himself." It happens.

Chapter Thirty-One

It's hard to apologize when someone won't talk to you. I can't tell if Park realizes all of what he did.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Park's mother just gained some depth as a character. When she saw Eleanor with her siblings, she was able to sympathize with someone in a large, poor family and is finally able to apologize honestly.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Christmas contrasts.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Sorry, less to say in this part of the book.

Chapter Thirty-Five

How dare Eleanor not wear make-up! How dare Park wear make-up! This book is pretty much Feminism 101 by example. Park's parents are definitely complex characters that I'm liking and disliking in rapid succession. Realistic!

Chapter Thirty-Six

Oh, Park wasn't wearing make-up just to show solidarity with Eleanor. This is one of those things he wanted to do but felt he couldn't do. Eleanor's disregard for social rules was the big thing that captured Park's attention in the first place.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Park's mom is enjoying having a teen girl around to experiment on, hah!

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Stasis.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Along with Park, I didn't realize Eleanor fell over because she was so self-conscious about her weight when Park touched her, as if he might like the way she looks but wouldn't like the way she feels.

Chapter Forty

When an adult at the school finally notices the bullying, "You've got to stop letting them get to you, you know. [...] You just encourage them."

This is known as: blaming the victim. It's one thing for Eleanor's mom to be psychologically trapped by her husband. Kids can't even leave the situation, whether it's at home or at school.

Chapter Forty-One

Well, that's an okay reaction for Park to have to Eleanor in fewer clothes.

Chapter Forty-Two
"When he heard the doorbell, he jerked up to answer it before he was awake. [...]
He was sure it was Eleanor. He opened the door without checking."
I'm so worried!

*continues*

Oh. Whew. "Tina would be so pissed." Indeed! (Though I doubt she's the secret bully.)

Chapter Forty-Three

A chapter of two mothers. I'm more sympathetic with both by the end. I would still only want to be around Park's mom.

Chapter Forty-Four

I would be okay not hearing that "Down, Down, Baby" song in my head again, thanks.

Chapter Forty-Five

Still strange for me to read about a book taking place in Omaha. This isn't allowed!

Smiled at Eleanor's thought about "an Erica Jong novel." Been thinking of reading one. Too much syncronicity: guess I'd better now.

Chapter Forty-Six

Oh. I saw the storm coming, but I didn't see that coming.

I'm glad Eleanor and Park didn't have intercourse immediately before this, because then it would feel too much like every movie where "going all the way" is followed by narrative punishment. Here, traveling all around downtown Omaha and being seen at some point is what triggered it.

Chapter Forty-Seven to Forty-Nine

Is the coping-with-bullying message of this book: kids can be awful, but adults can be much, much worse? That is was brought all of the teens together. And, so far, without including any adults despite how effective it would be legally-or-otherwise to tell Park's parents.

Chapter Fifty

Well of course Park had better do the driving rather than let her hitchhike. Eleanor is still too shy about demanding safe conditions for herself.

Chapter Fifty-One

I know. I know. Novel conventions. But did Park really have to demonstrate that he knew how to drive stick when it was important for Eleanor? I'm sure the other car was needed by Park's family while he was gone, so that's a decent in-story explanation. Park's dad treating him like an adult was probably why Park didn't have trouble this time, which is a decent thematic explanation. Ok, nevermind, it's slightly cheesy but fine.

Chapter Fifty-Two to the End

I've tried, but I can't sympathize with Eleanor cutting off communication because she didn't want her relationship to be less with Park than it was at the running-away climax. That's just the sort of valuing of "being in love" over caring about someone concrete that Eleanor is supposed to detest.

There was no resolution with the abusive home. Eleanor ran off because some adults (including Richie, probably) allowed it. But what about her siblings? What about her mother? Park deciding not to beat Richie to death is still letting him continue.

There were also no answers to bullying, except coming together against adults. In fact, with all of the Watchmen references, I have to wonder if that is the intended answer: that the only way to resolve conflict is to unite against an external foe.

Eleanor & Park is a great book in terms of depicting bad, common situations, but I feel like the solutions aren't commonly applicable. The best I can hope for is that teens read it and have more compassion for their peers.

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