Study Guide

Eleanor & Park Love

By Rainbow Rowell


Chapter 6
Park Sheridan

His dad barreled into the kitchen and scooped his mom into his arms. They did this every night, too. Full-on make-out sessions, no matter who was around. (6.27)

Park's parents' relationship is a case of love that's lasted a very long time. They're practically teenagers every time they see each other.

Chapter 10
Eleanor Douglas

"Romeo and Juliet are just two rich kids who've always gotten every little thing they want. And now, they think they want each other."

"They're in love…" Mr. Stessman said, clutching his heart.

"They don't even know each other."

"It was love at first sight."

"It was 'Oh my God, he's so cute' at first sight… it's Shakespeare making fun of love." (10.41-45)

Pay attention to Eleanor here, because she tells us something important: She thinks that Romeo and Juliet, one of literature's most beloved romantic tragedies, isn't romantic at all. She seems pretty cynical about the whole concept of love at first sight, but insofar as this book is about two young lovers, with family keeping them apart, we're thinking Romeo and Juliet sound a little more like Park and Eleanor than Eleanor might like to admit.

Park Sheridan

"Because…" he said quietly, looking at his desk, "because people want to remember what it's like to be young? And in love?" (10.50)

Here's Park's take on why Romeo and Juliet is so important. His opinion is a little more romantic, isn't it? Do you think Eleanor and Park's own story is more like Eleanor's opinion of Romeo and Juliet, or Park's?

Chapter 15

Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive. (15.35)

We're swooning. Could there be a more beautiful description of what it's like to be in love? We don't think so.

Park Sheridan

Or maybe, he thought now, he just didn't recognize all those other girls. The way a computer drive will spit out a disk if it doesn't recognize the formatting. When he touched Eleanor's hand, he recognized her. He knew. (15.43)

This is a really amazing metaphor that tells us how Park feels about Eleanor. It's so much more than "she's so cute," isn't it? We love the idea of recognizing someone you're just getting to know.

Chapter 16

Park touched her hands like they were something rare and precious, like her fingers were intimately connected to the rest of her body. Which, of course, they were. It was hard to explain. He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts. (16.7)

Park makes Eleanor feel cherished, appreciated, and understood. Even though he's never been in a relationship like this, Park's really good at letting Eleanor know how he feels about her. That's one of the reasons the two of them just… work.

Chapter 19
Park Sheridan

Sometimes it seemed like she would never be able to give Park anything like what he'd given her. It was like he dumped all this treasure on her every morning without even thinking about it, without any sense of what it was worth. (19.58)

Eleanor may be thinking about music here, but we think this is a metaphor for everything Park's given Eleanor. The mix tapes were great, but love? Love's even better.

Eleanor Douglas

"I don't like you, Park," she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. "I..."—her voice nearly disappeared—"think I live for you." (19.308)

Eleanor doesn't tell Park she loves him, in so many words, but she says a lot of things like this. Park has no trouble telling Eleanor he loves her, and he tells her many times. Why doesn't Eleanor say those three little words?

Chapter 40
Park Sheridan

"Nothing before you counts," he said. "And I can't even imagine an after." (40.31)

Park's done. He's telling Eleanor: You're it. There will never be anyone else. It's a huge declaration, isn't it?

Chapter 42
Park Sheridan

"I love you," he said.

She looked up at him, her eyes shiny and black, then looked away. "I know," she said…

"You know?" he repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her. "You're not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know."

"I'm totally the Han Solo," she whispered. (42.57-60)

Eleanor and Park keep their sense of humor even in the most dramatic moments, dropping in a Star Wars reference that's a hilarious parallel. We love that their relationship is intense, but relaxed enough that they don't have to be serious all the time. What do you think, Star Wars fans, is Eleanor the Han Solo? She might be.