Study Guide

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park Summary

When the book opens, we learn right away that our narrator, Park, has lost someone named Eleanor. Since this book is set in the mid-1980s, in true 80s cassette-tape style, we rewind to the beginning of the school year to find out what happened.

Park Sheridan, a half-Korean high school kid in the very Caucasian city of Omaha, Nebraska, feels like an outsider in lots of ways: He's obsessed with music, he loves comic books, and he doesn't have a ton of friends. But when he sees Eleanor Douglas get on the bus one morning, he knows he's not as much of an outsider as she is.

Chubby, with bright red hair and a habit of dressing in men's clothing, Eleanor's mere existence is like a glowing neon sign for the bullies in their high school. Park knows immediately that the popular kids on the bus will eat her for lunch, so he silently offers her a seat. What happens next is a slow, dawning realization that the two of them have a connection unlike anything they've ever had with anyone else.

As Eleanor and Park share silent bus rides, we learn more about each of them, the narrative alternating between the two characters. They come from drastically different backgrounds. Eleanor lives in poverty in a tiny house, sharing a room with her four younger siblings. Eleanor's recently returned from a year away from home, living with distant family friends after being kicked out of the house by her violent stepfather. Richie, an alcoholic who abuses Eleanor's mother, is such a threat that Eleanor and her siblings live in fear of even being in the same room with him.

Although Park's home life seems heavenly compared to Eleanor's—he comes from a stable, happy family—Park is constantly aware that his interests set him apart from his sports-loving father and younger brother, and he's not sure if his dad really accepts him.

As Eleanor begins to read Park's comic books over his shoulder on the bus, the two of them totally click. Eventually, mix tapes are swapped, sparks fly, and soon they're inseparable, living for the minutes they spend together on the bus. When they finally reach out to hold hands, you'd never imagine handholding could be so incredible.

Although romance is blooming with Park, Eleanor has to cope with some difficult obstacles at school and at home. She's relentlessly bullied by her classmates, who call her "Big Red" and invent evil ways to make her life miserable; an anonymous bully even writes obscene messages on her textbooks. At home, Eleanor tries to make herself invisible, hoping Richie won't notice her, and listens to him abuse her mother at night.

Eleanor finds refuge at Park's house after school, although Park's parents are initially a little freaked out by Eleanor's unconventional appearance (and their son's clear affection for her). Park's Korean mom, a beautician, has a particularly hard time accepting Eleanor. But once she gets a glimpse of Eleanor's family, she realizes she can relate to Eleanor—she also grew up in poverty with a bunch of siblings. From then on, Park's parents are incredibly supportive, inviting Eleanor to dinner every night and accepting her as Park's girlfriend—which, by now, she is.

But we all know this story's about star-crossed lovers, and as Eleanor and Park fall more deeply in love, we start to feel like the other shoe's about to drop. They have almost no way to spend time alone, afraid of what might happen if Richie finds out about Park. Finally, after a blissful first (and only) night out together, Eleanor comes home to the unmistakable signs that Richie's discovered her secret. Even worse, she realizes that Richie's the one who's been writing obscene messages on her textbooks all year. Yikes.

Terrified that Richie's out to kill her—or worse—Eleanor takes off, knowing she can never go home again. Supported by his awesome, understanding parents, Park borrows the family truck and drives Eleanor from Omaha all the way to her uncle's house in Minnesota.

After a heartbreaking all-night drive, Park leaves Eleanor at her uncle's house and they say goodbye, though thankfully not Romeo-and-Juliet style. For these two, though, parting is definitely more sorrowful than sweet.

Though Park writes tons of letters, Eleanor can't bring herself to get in touch. Safe at her uncle's house, Eleanor starts a new life, but she's heartbroken over Park's absence. After six months of painful radio silence from Eleanor, Park finally gets a postcard in the mail. Eleanor's written three words on it, and we get to guess what they are.

  • Prologue

    The book's opening isn't labeled as an introduction, but whatever you'd like to call it, the few paragraphs before Chapter 1 set the scene for the story to come. If you think you're reading a romance that ends in "happily ever after," the first sentence will set you straight: "He'd stopped trying to bring her back" (P.1).

    Even though we don't yet know who "he" is, this sentence tells us a lot. Our "he" once had someone he'd felt strongly about, and he'd lost her. Not only that, he'd given up on bringing her back. What a way to open a book.

    The girl described in the prologue—Eleanor—seems like a strong character before we even meet her. She haunts our unknown protagonist's memories, red-haired, "standing behind him until he turned his head," and "ruining everything" (P.8). Even though it seems like this will end in disaster, we can't wait to meet her.

  • Chapter 1

    Before we get started, let's talk about alternating point of view, because that's how Eleanor & Park was written. Throughout the book, our viewpoint switches back and forth between our two protagonists. When the switch happens, we get a paragraph break labeled with the character's name. We'll mark each chapter summary with these POV switches so it's clear when we're in someone else's head.

    Also, get out your Ray-Bans and your parents' cassette tapes: This book opens in August 1986.

    Park

    • We meet Park on the morning school bus, trying to drown out the noise with music from his Walkman. He ignores his neighbors Steve and Tina, fellow high school classmates who are chatting loudly and obnoxiously in the back of the bus. 
    • They try to get Park to talk about something called "Drunken Monkey karate" (1.20), and that's how we find out that Park is Asian, all thanks to some super offensive dialogue between Steve and Tina (1.26-33). 
    • Park notices a new girl get on the bus. All the rest of the kids move to the edge of their seats. "Nobody would look at her" (1.39), Park notices. The new girl looks like a bully magnet: She's "big and awkward" (1.41), with bright red, curly hair, and she's not dressed like anyone else, either. When no one will give her a seat, and she almost starts to cry, Park scoots to the side and orders her to sit down.
    • They don't speak to each other. Park anticipates a "world of suck" (1.60) from his act of kindness.
  • Chapter 2

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's sitting on the steps outside school, going through a mental checklist trying to figure out how she can avoid riding the bus again.
    • We find out she's just moved, her mom doesn't have a car, and for some reason she can't imagine calling her dad.
    • She imagines that all of the kids on the bus are devil spawn, because they hated Eleanor immediately—"Like they'd been hired to kill her in a past life" (2.9).
    • Eleanor's mom has offered that someone named Richie will take her, because she told him Eleanor's "ready to be a part of [their] family" (2.20), but Eleanor seems determined to avoid that at all costs.
  • Chapter 3

    Park

    • Park expects Steve to give him a hard time for letting Eleanor sit down, but Steve is still on his martial arts kick, bad pun not intended.
    • Turns out Park knows a lot about martial arts, by the way, "because his dad was obsessed with martial arts, not because his mom was Korean" (3.3).
    • Park can't deal with leaving Eleanor to fend for herself at the back of the bus, and he "hated himself for thinking like this" (3.6).
    • Despite this, he's kind of happy Eleanor is around, because he imagines he'd be a target for Steve, Mikey, and Tina's bullying if she wasn't there.
    • Eleanor was in Park's English class earlier in the day, where she'd read a poem aloud. Mr. Stessman, their teacher, had Eleanor read a poem about eating by Emily Dickinson, which Park found totally insensitive. Mr. Stessman loved Eleanor's reading, saying, "That's a voice that arrives on a chariot drawn by dragons" (3.30).
    • Park can't figure out how to get rid of Eleanor on the bus, so he just puts on his headphones. Eleanor sits down next to Park, and they don't talk, much to Park's relief.
  • Chapter 4

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor arrives home before anyone else in her house, which she's happy about "because she wasn't ready to see them again" (4.1). 
    • Apparently it was a "freak show" (4.1) when she got home last night, and she'd spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like when she finally got home. It seems like she's recently been away for a while. Why would a high school kid spend time away from their own family? We're starting to get clues here that Eleanor's home life may hold a lot of secrets.
    • When she did get home last night, "it was like her siblings didn't recognize her" (4.3). One of them, Ben, doesn't look in her direction, while another, Maisie, is sitting on her stepfather's lap, which makes Eleanor want to throw up. Mouse is the only one who hugs her.
    • Her stepfather ignores her, and the two-year-old "wouldn't remember Eleanor at all"—maybe she's been away for a very long time (4.9). Wow, what's going on here?
    • Eleanor is given the top bunk in a tiny room with the rest of her siblings; her three brothers have to sleep on the floor. The house is incredibly small, with only a hanging sheet between the bathroom and kitchen.
    • When Eleanor gets home from school, the sight of her mom making soup makes her feel like crying. She thinks about how beautiful her mom is, "like the star of some fairy tale" (4.24). In comparison, Eleanor thinks she herself looks like "her mother through a fish tank" (4.29).
    • Eleanor's mom gives her a plastic garbage bag full of Eleanor's possessions, the only things that were saved during their move. Eleanor imagines Richie threw away the rest of it a year ago, "ten seconds after he'd kicked her out" (4.37). So now we know: Her stepdad threw her out for some reason.
    • In the bag, Eleanor finds her paper dolls and a few of her books and folders; she wonders where the rest of their old things went. She still hopes "that Richie was just temporary" (4.45).
    • She also finds a keepsake—a Fruit of the Month box with art supplies and her Walkman, no batteries, but intact. She has no place to keep anything in this house, not even room for her own clothes, so she hides the bag on a top shelf in the closet.
  • Chapter 5

    Park

    • Mr. Stessman's making them memorize a poem of their choice in English class. He walks around class dramatically, which embarrasses Park, and talks about what type of poem they should choose. 
    • Eleanor is staring out the window. Mr. Stessman suggests she pick "A Dream Deferred" (5.11).
    • Park decides to choose a rhyming poem, to make things easier.
  • Chapter 6

    Eleanor

    • Tina calls Eleanor "Raghead" on the bus, and has lead the charge in having the kids in Eleanor's gym class call her "Bozo." Tina's also calling her "Bloody Mary." 
    • Eleanor thinks gym class is "an extension of hell, and Tina was definitely a demon" (6.3). She has to wear a gym suit, which is a hellish red and white polyester monstrosity. 
    • Eleanor gets to her bus seat before "that stupid Asian kid" (6.7)—she still doesn't know his name. She's noticed that he wears cool shoes and is always reading comic books, though.
    • Eleanor doesn't read on the bus, because she doesn't want Tina "or anybody else, to catch her with her head down" (6.13).

    Park

    • Park thinks it's weird to keep sitting next to Eleanor without talking to her, even if she's dressed weirdly. He finds every bus ride agonizing.
    • While Park's trying to eat dinner in his room, his little brother Josh reminds him to get ready for his martial arts class. Despite being younger, Josh is already taller than Park and a likely recruit for the football team. Park thinks he could still beat him at taekwondo, but only because Josh doesn't try hard at it.
    • Park's dad gets home and pulls his mom into a kiss, which is routine in their house. Because of their size difference, Park compares his parents' kiss to "watching Paul Bunyan make out with one of those It's A Small World dolls" (6.27), since his dad is huge, like his brother. Park seems to take after his smaller Korean mom.

    Eleanor

    • Dinner happens really early at Eleanor's house now, and she can't get used to it. It's like Eleanor's mom wants the kids "all out of the way before [Richie] came home" (6.31). Her mom also makes Richie a separate, and much better, dinner. 
    • Eleanor usually stays in her room while her siblings play outside, but she doesn't know what they'll do when it gets too cold to play outside, implying that they all can't be anywhere near their stepdad, or else. She wonders if they'll all hide in the tiny bedroom, and calls it "Diary-of-Anne-Frank crazy" (6.32).
    • Eleanor remembers her happiness at her mom's unexpected arrival at her last school—she'd shown up without warning to bring Eleanor home. It wasn't all total joy, however. Eleanor had "pretended not to notice the bruises on her mom's wrist" (6.37). 
    • Eleanor remembers how she and her siblings used to be allied against Richie, and talk about how much they hated him; she remembers listening to "shouting and crying" (6.48) from her mom and Richie's room. 
    • When Eleanor gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, Richie is asleep in the living room, leaving Eleanor "too scared to flush the toilet" (6.62). We're quickly learning that Richie is an absolutely terrifying presence in Eleanor's house.
  • Chapter 7

    Park

    • Park's friend Cal tells him he's going to ask out a girl named Kim. Cal calls her a "Betty" (7.6). Park tries to convince Cal that Kim's too cool for him, then turns down Cal's offer to get another girl for Park.
    • Cal notices that Eleanor's staring at Park. Park thinks about her weird clothes, but he's noticed he likes a few things she wears. "She's on my bus. She's weird" (7.35), he explains to Cal. 
    • Cal thinks Eleanor has "jungle fever," and Park tries to explain that this "isn't even the right kind of racist" (7.26), giving us a clue that maybe there aren't a whole lot of Asian people in this community. Park, annoyed, tells Cal that asking Kim out is a good idea after all.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's in the library looking for a poem, and ends up in the African American section because it's empty. She's noticed that most of the kids at this school were black, but "most of the kids in her honors classes were white" (7.42). They get bused in from other neighborhoods, and tend to be nicer, or at least "scared of getting in trouble" (7.45), which makes them act nicer.
    • She picks out a poem called "Caged Bird" to memorize, which is now a famous poem, although Eleanor doesn't seem to know it.
  • Chapter 8

    Park

    • Park figures out Eleanor's been reading his comics on the bus, looking at them from the next seat. 
    • Park also realizes he's never seen hair as red as Eleanor's, or eyes so dark they were "almost like holes in her face" (8.4), which "might even be the best thing about her" (8.5), because it reminds him of Jean Grey from the X-Men comics. Maybe he's paying more attention to Eleanor than he realizes?
    • He still doesn't know what to say to Eleanor, because hello, awkward. Instead, he "held his comics open wider and turned the pages more slowly" (8.9).

    Eleanor

    • When Eleanor gets home, her mom looks unusually tired and is in a bad mood; she makes all the kids go outside, Eleanor included.
    • Richie's Rottweiler is outside, named for his ex-wife Tonya. The dog's supposed to be vicious, but instead she's just sleepy.
    • Eleanor wants to take a bath before Richie gets home, but her mom doesn't let her. Eleanor seems stressed about Richie and the bathing situation, because the bathroom doesn't have a door. Yikes. 
    • It's cold, but Eleanor doesn't have a jacket—she doesn't own one. Ben, the oldest of her younger siblings, comments that when it gets too cold to play outside, Richie makes all the kids go to bed incredibly early. Eleanor asks Ben why he calls Richie "Dad," and Ben says, "I guess because he's married to Mom" (8.21).
    • Eleanor isn't sure what will happen when all the kids get older, because "there was no room in that house to be a teenager" (8.24).
    • Ben asks Eleanor what it was like to live with the other family—the Hickmans, we discover. "Terrible. Lonely. Better than here," Eleanor thinks, but just answers, "Okay" (8.32).
    • Turns out Eleanor was sent to stay with the Hickmans just for a few days, but a few days turned into a much longer stay. Her mom used to call her every day while she was there, but eventually the calls stopped. "It turned out that Richie hadn't paid the phone bill, and it got disconnected. But Eleanor didn't know that for a while" (8.42). Eleanor doesn't seem upset when she thinks about this, but we find it a pretty chilling, heartbreaking revelation.
    • Eleanor remembers overhearing conversations between the Hickmans about calling the state to get her. She "tried to be even less trouble" and "practiced being in a room without leaving any clues that she'd been there" (8.48). 
    • Ben tells her that he and the rest of the siblings all thought Eleanor was gone for good.
  • Chapter 9

    Park

    • Park is blown away by Eleanor's poetry reading. "She recited it like it was a living thing," he thinks. "Like something she was letting out" (9.2). Mr. Stessman even hugged her when she was done. Park thinks about what he might say to Eleanor about the poem, and saves his new comics so she can read them too.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's figured out that Park knows about the comics. She's decided that he's not "one of them, the bus demons" (9.8), but he's popular enough with them that they leave her alone when she's sitting with him. Which makes her "wish she could sit next to him all day long" (9.8).
    • It seems like Park is waiting for her the next day, with a new comic called Watchmen, which doesn't look like Eleanor's style. She starts reading it anyway, and when they get back on the bus in the afternoon, she realizes Park hasn't finished reading it—he's kept their place. This time, when she gets up to leave the bus, he hands her the comic. (They still haven't spoken a word to each other, remember?)
    • Eleanor tries to give it back, but Park has already turned away. She keeps it carefully and reads it three more times that night.

    Park

    • Park's totally confused. He doesn't know what to do if she doesn't give back the comic, which is brand new and a big deal for comic book fans. He figures he won't let her sit down anymore if she doesn't give it back. But if she does give it back, he has to figure out what to say to her.

    Eleanor

    • Park's looking out the window when she sits down. "She handed him the comic, and he took it" (9.23)… Are these two ever going to talk to each other?
  • Chapter 10

    Eleanor

    • The next morning, Park's already put a stack of comics on her bus seat before she even sits down. She takes them, but doesn't want to read in front of him because "It would be like... admitting something" (10.3).
    • When she gets home, Eleanor finds Park has given her his pristine collection of Swamp Thing comics. Eleanor turns the light on after her siblings go to sleep so she can read. She obeys Richie when he comes in and tells her to turn off the light. She thinks Richie looks "like the human being version of a rat" (10.10).

    Park

    • Eleanor "read stuff as fast as he could give it to her" (10.13), and treats Park's comics with such care that he can't even tell she's read them, except that they smell like roses (10.15).
    • They still don't talk on the bus, but the silence is "almost friendly" (10.17).
    • Today, Park's forgotten the stack of comics he wanted to give her, so he knows he'll have to say something. Finally, spotting a song title doodled on her notebook, he asks her if she likes the Smiths.
    • Eleanor says she's never heard them. "So you just want people to think you like them?" (10.25), he asks. That pretty much kills the conversation.
    • In English class, Mr. Stessman tries to get Eleanor to talk. They're discussing Romeo and Juliet, and Eleanor says she doesn't think it's a tragedy, because Shakespeare is "so obviously making fun of them" (10.37).
    • Mr. Stessman calls on Park, asking him why the play has survived for so long. "Because people want to remember what it's like to be young? And in love?"(10.50) Park answers. Mr. Stessman agrees with him. 
    • When Park gets on the bus in the afternoon, Eleanor actually talks to him. She explains that the song title on her notebook is "more like a wish list" (10.56), songs and bands she'd like to hear. Park asks her why she doesn't listen to them, and Eleanor is completely annoyed, saying they don't play them on the radio. Whoops. Conversation over.
    • That night, Park makes Eleanor a mix tape with his favorite Smiths songs, among others, and "puts the tape and five more X-Men comics into his backpack" (10.66) before bed.
  • Chapter 11

    Eleanor

    • At home, Eleanor's mom talks with her and dabs vanilla behind Eleanor's ears like perfume. She seems relaxed, and Eleanor thinks she looks "almost like she used to" (11.11).
    • Eleanor wakes up to Richie's shouting and her mom crying as if she'd been crying for a long time. The rest of her siblings are already awake. Eleanor climbs down from her bed to join the rest of the kids on the floor. Eleanor thinks that if this had happened before she was sent away, she would have tried to stop it, but now "that seemed like something a child would do, or a fool" (11.19). She thinks even the baby "seemed to realize that trying to make this stop would only ever make it worse" (11.19).
    • When Eleanor wakes up, she wonders if her mom is still alive, until the smell of bacon reassures her that she is. Yikes. 
    • Eleanor smells like pee, because one of her brothers wet the bed last night and climbed on her. She has to ask her mom to help her get clean. Her mom, who's visibly bruised, offers to guard the bathroom door against Richie while she washes off. Her only option: go to school wearing yesterday's clothes.
  • Chapter 12

    Park

    • When Eleanor gets on the bus the next day, Park knows something's wrong: "She got on like she was lost and ended up there" (12.2).
    • She's wearing the same clothes from yesterday, and she doesn't have her schoolbooks.
    • Park's left the mix tape for her on the seat. She picks it up, but won't take it. Finally, Eleanor admits that she doesn't have any way to listen to it, and covers her face. Park realizes other kids on the bus are watching.
    • Without even touching her, Park takes out his own Walkman, puts the new tape in it, puts the headphones on Eleanor's head, and turns it on.
    • They stay together when they get off the bus, which Park thinks is weird: "Usually, they broke away from each other as soon as they hit the sidewalk" (12.18.) They walk together to their lockers, and finally, Park says, "Well, now you've heard the Smiths" (12.20);
    • Eleanor actually laughs.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor beats herself up for not just taking the tape, and thinks about Park. In her head, he's still the "Weird Asian kid" (12.25). She's only ever known one other Asian person in her life, and their school only has three or four other Asian kids, total. Park's eyes are green, though, Eleanor's noticed, so she's not really sure what nationality he is.
    • Eleanor's afraid she's going to reveal more embarrassing details to Park, like the fact that she doesn't own a toothbrush. She's been considering telling her school counselor, Mrs. Dunne, though not about Richie.
    • She's waiting to see Park in English class later that day. Everyone in gym is unusually nice to her, which she doesn't notice, but at the end of class everyone's waiting for Eleanor to get to her locker. Her gym locker is covered with a box of maxi pads, colored red with Magic Marker, with the words "Raghead" and "Big Red" written on them.
    • Eleanor has to get her clothes out of her locker, and cries but hides it. Two black girls, DeNice and Beebi, approach her afterward. "Those girls are trifling," De Nice says. "They're so insignificant, God can hardly see them" (12.53). The girls help Eleanor clean up, and Eleanor thinks if they weren't there, she "might have kept some of the pads, the ones that didn't have any writing on them, because, God, what a waste" (12.52).
    • When she finally gets to English, she realizes she must really like Park, because even after what's happened, she only cares about seeing him again.

    Park

    • On the bus, Eleanor listens to Park's Walkman again. He offers to let her borrow it, but she refuses. Finally, she borrows just the batteries, looking "dead serious, cold sober" (12.67). Park still thinks this is pretty weird.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor listens to the tape at night until the batteries run out.
  • Chapter 13

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's feeling much better the next day, partly due to clean clothes, but mostly because she can't get Park's songs out of her head.
    • The music makes her feel different: "it set her lungs and stomach on edge […] it made Eleanor feel like everything, like the world, wasn't what she thought it was […] And that was the greatest thing" (13.3).
    • She tries to hide it, but she can't help grinning at Park when she sees him on the bus. She doesn't say anything until they're nearly at school, because she can't figure out what to say, but Park finally asks what she thought of the tape.
    • Eleanor tells him the tape was "so awesome" (13.12). Finally, they start talking about the amazingness of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." 
    • Eventually, Park turns away, but Eleanor finds she doesn't want them to stop talking. "I love the X-Men. But I hate Cyclops" (13.35), she offers. She tells Park she thinks Cyclops is boring, like Batman. 
    • Park disagrees and tells her he's bringing The Dark Knight Returns.

    Park

    • In English, Park notices that Eleanor's hair "came to a soft red point on the back of her neck" (13.51).

    Eleanor

    • In history, Eleanor notices that Park chews his pencil, and that Kim, another girl in class, has a crush on him.

    Park

    • Park makes a tape with "the Joy Division song on it, over and over again." He takes batteries from everything in the house and asks his grandmother for more batteries for his birthday. (Oh, Park. We're swooning.)
  • Chapter 14

    Eleanor

    • Ever since the maxi pad incident, DeNice and Beebi have started talking to Eleanor in gym class. DeNice and Beebi ask her to come sit with them at lunch.

    Park

    • While Cal asks Park when Park's going to get his driver's license, Park watches Eleanor in English. Cal tries to convince Park to ask Kim to the homecoming dance, but Park doesn't want to hear about it.

    Eleanor

    • Despite Eleanor's worries that Park will stop talking to her, he keeps chatting. In fact, they can't seem to stop talking—"They talked every second they were sitting next to each other" (14.37).
    • They talk about music, television, and comics, and they "agreed about everything important, and argued about everything else" (14.44).
    • And when they disagree, Eleanor can always make Park laugh.
    • They argue about whether or not the X-Men are sexist (she says yes, he says no), and Eleanor confesses that if she could have any power, it would be flying. Park agrees.

    Park

    • After taekwondo, Steve teases Park about going to see Eleanor (throwing in a racist dig or two, because that's just the kind of thing Steve does). Park walks over to Eleanor's, guessing which house is hers. 
    • At Eleanor's house, Richie answers the door. Park thinks he looked "too young to be Eleanor's dad" (14.78), and Richie goes back inside. When Eleanor comes out, she looks terrified: "As soon as he saw her, he knew it had been a mistake to come here" (14.85).
    • Park's brought over the new Watchmen comic so they could read it together. They sit on the step of the nearby elementary school and read it, but as soon as they're done, Eleanor leaves.

    Eleanor

    • When Eleanor gets back inside, Richie immediately asks if Park is her boyfriend. She says no, and lies that Park came to talk to her about homework. Just as she closes the door to the bedroom, she hears Richie say, "I know what you're up to. Nothing but a bitch in heat" (14.106). Wow.
    • Eleanor doesn't let herself react; she "let his words hit her full-on. Took them right in the chin" (14.107). Back in bed, she clenches her eyes shut "until she could breathe without screaming" (14.107).
    • She'd kept Park separate from Richie in her head until now, "but now Richie was in there, just pissing all over everything" (14.110).
    • She can't think about Park now without thinking of Richie leering at her. In the dark, Maisie asks if Park is her boyfriend, and she denies it.
  • Chapter 15

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's mom talks to her the next morning, and Eleanor already knows what she's going to say—she tells her mom that Park won't be coming back. Her mom pretends that it's because Eleanor's "so young" (15.5), but Eleanor knows it's not really about that. It's one hundred percent about Richie.
    • She feels like crying, but she doesn't want to cry about Park, because "being Park's friend was pretty much the best thing that had ever happened to her" (15.11).
    • Park apologizes when they get on the bus. He reaches out and pulls on the scarf she's tied around her wrist. She thanks him for bringing the comic, and watches his hand as he plays with the scarf. They don't look at each other as Park slides the scarf, and his hand, into Eleanor's open hand; Eleanor "disintegrated" (15.34).

    Park

    • Park thinks holding Eleanor's hand "was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive" (15.35). We'll just leave that there for your enjoyment.
    • Park's held hands with other girls, but it's never really affected him before. He kissed a girl last year, but he'd "wondered if maybe there was something wrong with him" (15.39), and even whether he might be gay. He'd only ever been attracted to the girls in his comic books. Except he thinks now that maybe "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" (15.42). But he recognizes Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's still disintegrating. With some Star Trek metaphors thrown in for good measure. She stays completely still.

    Park

    • They break apart at the end of the bus ride. Park hopes no one was watching them, and he realizes that "Eleanor hadn't actually done anything to touch him back" (15.55). He hopes that's not a bad sign, and asks if she's okay. She nods. He tells her he'll see her in English, and she nods again and walks away. We think Park's also disintegrating.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wonders how there could be "that many nerve endings all in one place" (15.66).

    Park

    • Park's now in deep worry mode. "Was it possible to rape somebody's hand?" (15.69) he wonders. Eleanor won't look at him in class.
    • When he gets to the bus, Eleanor's waiting for him, but sitting in his spot against the wall. He can't bring himself to say anything, so he just sits down next to her.
    • Eleanor reaches for his hand, and her own hand is shaking. She asks if he's okay, and he nods. They stare at their entwined hands.
  • Chapter 16

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor hates Saturdays. She's just waiting for Monday, and it seems too far away.
    • Someone has written "do i make you wet" (16.3) on her geography book, and she covers up the writing with a black pen. 
    • She's saved her batteries for today, "so that she could listen to her tape player today when she missed [Park] most" (16.5). Park's made her five tapes so far. Even in her fantasies, she just wants to hold his hand because it's so amazing.
    • They've nearly stopped talking on the bus, because the handholding is so overwhelming for both of them. 
    • Eleanor's starting to think Park may really like her. When a bust sewer pipe diverted their bus for fifteen extra minutes last week, Park said, "Wow […] I can actually burst sewers with my mind" (16.11-13).
    • Eleanor's noticed Park's hair (really cute) and his all-black clothing (which, she'll have us know, he looks good in). She tries to compose letters to him in her head, but she doesn't understand "what he could possibly see in her" (16.29).

    Park

    • Park's family pickup truck keeps dying. Park's dad is trying to teach him how to drive stick shift, but Park thinks he "could never master something new if his dad was the one teaching it" (16.35).
    • Park's frustrated that his dad compares him to his brother, who learned to drive in two weeks. They give up the driving lesson and Park walks home. He also hates Saturdays.
  • Chapter 17

    Eleanor

    • Park smiles at Eleanor when she gets on the bus. Tina watches them, but Eleanor ignores her, and as soon as Eleanor sits down, Park "took her hand and kissed it" (17.6). Eleanor is totally overwhelmed and thinks she might die of "ecstasy or embarrassment" (17.6).
    • Eleanor goes to see Mrs. Dunne, the school counselor. She tells Eleanor that her dad contacted the school because he didn't have Eleanor's home number. (Eleanor's new home doesn't have a phone.) Mrs. Dunne wants to know if Eleanor would like to call her dad from the office. Mrs. Dunne actually offers the use of the phone anytime, but Eleanor considers asking for a toothbrush instead.
    • Eleanor calls her dad. When he asks, she says everything's fine, and he tells her that she never calls. "There was no use telling him that they didn't have a phone," Eleanor thinks. "Or pointing out that he never called them back when they did have a phone. […] There was no use telling her dad anything. Eleanor had known that for so long, she couldn't even remember figuring it out" (17.40-41).
    • Eleanor's dad asks her to come babysit Matt on Friday night. Her dad mentions a fiancée Eleanor didn't even know about, and tells Eleanor he'll pick her up at school Friday.

    Park

    • Park tells Cal he's not going to the homecoming dance. Cal says he's renting a tux, and he tries again to get Park to ask Kim to the dance. (Cal thinks if Park goes, Kim will somehow pay attention to Cal, who really likes her. It's not the best plan.) 
    • Eleanor gives Park a huge smile, dazzling enough that Mr. Stressman comment on how fantastic her smile is. She stops immediately.
    • Park nods at Cal; it seems like he might be giving in to Cal's homecoming campaign.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor can't believe Park missed her. She's on cloud nine. "Whatever perversion caused him to like her was his problem," she thinks.
    • "But he did like her; she was sure of it" (17.84).
    • Even in gym class, she realizes the safety she feels when she's next to Park is something she can summon "like a force field" (17.90) when she needs it.
  • Chapter 18

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's mom isn't going to let her babysit because she's upset that her dad didn't invite the rest of the kids over. Eleanor begs her not to talk to Richie, because Eleanor thinks that "Richie would say no just for the pleasure of saying it. It would make him feel like the king of Spain" (18.16). 
    • Finally Eleanor's mom relents, but makes Eleanor agree to split the babysitting money with her siblings. Eleanor agrees, because all she wants is "the chance to talk to Park on the phone" (18.19).
    • The next day on the bus, Eleanor asks for Park's phone number, and he starts laughing—"I feel like you're hitting on me" (18.23), he says. He thinks maybe she isn't allowed to talk on the phone. He offers to write the number on one of her books, and instead spots a lewd phrase scrawled on it. He asks her why she would write that, and she says she didn't write it, but doesn't know who did.
    • Eleanor's angry with herself for letting him see the book. She's trying to keep the details of her life from him, because she doesn't want to admit things like "I don't have a phone, and sometimes when we're out of dish soap, I wash my hair with flea and tick shampoo…" (18.42).
    • She doesn't think it would do much good to explain to Park that she wasn't bullied this badly at her old school. She'd had some friends there. That said, "there was no one like Park at her old school. There was no one like Park anywhere" (18.51-52).
    • Finally, she tells Park about the babysitting, and she asks to memorize Park's phone number, which he sings to the tune of "867-5309."

    Park

    • Park thinks about seeing Eleanor for the first time, and how she looked, with curly red hair and freckles, and the way she dressed. He "remembered feeling embarrassed for her," and now "he felt the fight rising up in his throat whenever he thought of people making fun of her" (18.78-80).
    • Park realizes that the bullying Eleanor endures is really bothering him, especially the writing on her book—"All morning long, he'd wanted to punch something" (18.83).
    • He hates the times when he thinks other kids are making fun of both of them, and admits to himself that he has moments when he thinks about pulling away from Eleanor, but when he sees her, "he couldn't think about pulling away. He couldn't think about anything at all. Except touching her" (18.92-93).
    • Park cancels on Cal and tells him he has something else to do; "Like, a girl something" (18.98).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's too nervous to eat lunch. She's already memorized Park's phone number.
    • On the bus, he tells her he feels like they have a date, because they're "never really together" (18.129).
    • Park holds her hand to his heart, and "it was the nicest thing she could imagine. It made her want to have his babies and give him both of her kidneys" (18.134). Ah, young love.
  • Chapter 19

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wakes up feeling like it's her birthday. She briefly thinks about her dad (and how he stopped caring about her at a certain point) and gets dressed in a men's shirt and tie.
    • She's a little nervous, because she hasn't seen her dad in over a year; she's not even sure he knew she went to live with the Hickmans.
    • Eleanor's dad wasn't a big fan of Eleanor and her siblings, and he "couldn't stand having them even for a few days" (19.8). He would offload them at his mom's house when they visited him, and go off to do something Eleanor assumed was "lots and lots of marijuana" (19.8).
    • After school, Eleanor waits for her dad, not even sure what kind of car he's driving these days. He picks her up in a convertible, smoking a cigarette, and drives off really fast: "She'd forgotten what a crappy driver he was. He did everything too fast and one-handed" (19.30).
    • While they wait for Donna, Eleanor's dad's fiancée, Eleanor and her dad watch ESPN while her dad chain-smokes cigarettes, sips Scotch, and talks on the phone. "If Eleanor paid too much attention, she hated him" (19.38). Can't say we blame her.
    • Eleanor notices how her dad's duplex has changed since she's been there—he has a lot more "small luxuries" (19.41), like nice toilet paper, cereal, and plenty of groceries. Given Eleanor's descriptions, we think maybe she hasn't had groceries like that in a long time: "She couldn't wait for her dad to leave so that she could start eating everything" (19.42).
    • She wishes she'd brought a bag so she could sneak home cans of food for her siblings and feel like Santa Claus.
    • Eleanor sits with the crates of vinyl albums while her dad talks on the phone, asks her dad for a blank tape, and starts making a mix for Park. She remembers all the time she spent studying the album covers as a child, and then she starts looking for Beatles albums: "Sometimes it seemed like she would never be able to give Park anything like what he'd given her. […] She couldn't repay him. […] How can you thank someone for the Cure? Or the X-men? […] And then she realized Park didn't know about the Beatles." (19.58-60)

    Park

    • We find out that Park's mom went to beauty school and converted their garage into a salon. Also, her name is really Min-Dae, but now she goes by Mindy. Her business is popular, and "Everyone in the neighborhood who could afford a hair stylist came to Park's mom" (19.67).
    • Mindy is doing Tina's hair for homecoming, and when Park sees them, Tina asks her if she's met Park's girlfriend, and describes Eleanor. Of course, Mindy has no idea Park has a girlfriend, if that's what Eleanor is. Park is absolutely furious; "She's not my girlfriend. I don't have a girlfriend" (19.82), he says.
    • Park waits for Eleanor to call. Instead, his grandma calls after dinner, and his parents don't have call waiting yet. (Can you imagine such torture?) Park's anxiety starts to climb—his grandmother lives next door, for crying out loud—and he tells his dad he's waiting for a call.
    • His little brother, Josh, asks if it's his girlfriend calling, and announces, "Park's dating Big Red" (19.99). Park explodes and threatens Josh with death if Josh ever calls her that name again.
    • Finally Park's mom gets off the phone and it rings again immediately. He takes the phone into his room, sitting down carefully since "He didn't want her to know he had a twin-sized waterbed and a phone shaped like a Ferrari" (19.126).
    • They decide to talk about "things [they] can't say on the bus" (19.140). Eleanor's first thing? "I hate those people" (19.142).
    • Park reveals he's half Korean, and that his dad served in Korea and brought his mom back from Korea when he came home. Also, that they're still very much in love.
    • Eleanor tells him he's different, but not because he's half Korean. She can't explain it in any other way than "you're so… cool" (19.163).

    Eleanor

    • Park thinks Eleanor is cool, and he isn't. These two, seriously.
    • Park also tells Eleanor that "you seem like yourself, no matter what's happening around you" (19.174), as well as a few other things.
    • Finally—finally—Eleanor and Park are talking.

    Park

    • Eleanor evades "most of Park's questions. She wouldn't talk about her family or her house. She wouldn't talk about anything that happened before she moved to the neighborhood or anything that happened after she got off the bus" (19.181-182).
    • They take a brief phone break so Eleanor can put her stepbrother to bed.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor tells Park she misses him: "I wish you were here. Or that I was there. I wish that there was some chance of talking like this after tonight, or seeing each other. Like, really seeing each other. Of being alone, together" (19.225). She realizes she's crying.
    • Eleanor tells Park they can't see each other "because my stepdad would kill me." When Park asks why he cares, she says, "He doesn't care. He just wants to kill me" (19.243-245).
    • Park keeps asking why, and Eleanor tells him that not everything has an answer or makes sense.
    • Things start to get tense between them—Park thinks she's angry at him, but Eleanor's just upset. He tells her she can ask him questions, so she asks, "Why do you even like me?" (19.268)

    Park

    • "I don't like you. I need you" (19.272), Park says. And he doesn't know why he needs Eleanor—he just does.
    • Eleanor doesn't say anything—she doesn't know what to say. Finally she says, "Ask me why I like you" (19.291), and when he does, she says, "I don't like you" (19.293), but then can't finish. She says she's afraid she'll say too much.
    • At last, she says: "I don't like you, Park […] I think I live for you" (19.308). And then she confesses that she's his, and she's not sure what she'd do if he decided he didn't want her like she wants him.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks she's doing a terrible job talking to Park: "all her feelings for him—hot and beautiful in her heart—turned to gobbledygook in her mouth" (19.314).
    • They talk again about Eleanor's stepfather, and why she can't see Park. Eleanor says that her stepfather is "the kind of bad that tries to kill anything good. If he knew about you, he'd do whatever he could to take you away from me" (19.330); she tells Park about being kicked out of her house for a year.
    • Park suggests they meet at his house, and Eleanor doesn't quite say no.
    • When Eleanor's dad comes home, she's angry with herself, saying "I never said why I like you, and now I have to go" (19.352).
    • She tells Park she likes him because he's kind, and smarter than she is, and he looks "like a protagonist […] like the person who wins in the end" (19.358). Let's hope so. We're rooting for both of them.
    • Just before she gets off the phone, Park tells Eleanor he loves her.
  • Chapter 20

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's dad only gives her seven dollars. She takes three brand-new toothbrushes from his house and sneaks them away, along with a bar of soap, but even as she's doing this, she feels sorry for Donna: "Her dad never laughed at anyone's jokes but his own" (20.5).
    • When Eleanor's dad drops her off, he gives all her siblings rides in his new car. She wishes she had a phone to call the cops and say, "I'm pretty sure none of them have seat belts on and that he's been drinking Scotch all morning" (20.7). 
    • Richie takes them all out to a movie, the big kids sitting in the back of the pickup truck despite the snow. On the way home, Eleanor realizes it's weird that she's not fantasizing about being thrown out of the truck.

    Park

    • Park's regretting telling Eleanor he loves her. He hadn't meant to do it so soon, "especially knowing how she felt about Romeo and Juliet " (20.14).
    • Every Sunday, Park and his family get dressed up and have dinner with their grandparents. Park goes over (next door) to see them.
    • Park's grandparents are Irish, and Park thinks about how it looks like the Korean genes skipped his brother Josh; Park himself gets a "KISS ME, I'M IRISH T-shirt every year for Christmas" (20.21).
    • At his grandparents' house, his whole family is talking about Park's supposed "girlfriend." Park's grandmother says she feels sorry for Eleanor, because she knows Eleanor's stepdad has "never been any good" (20.30).
    • Park has no idea what his family would say if he introduced Eleanor to them; he thinks his own mom is like "the most popular girl on the bus" (20.37).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's never lied to her mom, but she tells her that she might go to a friend's house after school—she tells her it's Tina. Eleanor's mom says okay, and that she's glad Eleanor's making friends.
  • Chapter 21

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wonders if Park will look different to her, now that he's said he loves her. She thinks he does look different—"more beautiful than ever" (21.5), to be precise.
    • They're starting to be tentatively relaxed with each other; she leans into him and puts the Beatles mix tape she made for him into his pocket, while he holds her hand. 
    • She tells him she can come over after school. Park says he can even have girls in his room if he keeps the door open, which reminds Eleanor that this is all very new; she still doesn't think she knows him very well.

    Park

    • Park's nervous about showing Eleanor to his parents, especially since his mom is a "beautician who sold Avon" (21.28) who got upset at rocker Patti Smith's look on SNL, saying, "Why would she want to look like man? It's so sad" (21.28).
    • Of course, Eleanor is wearing her usual gender-bending outfit: a man's shirt and a sharkskin suit jacket. 
    • Park also realizes Eleanor isn't "nice" (21.31). She was a lot of other wonderful things, but she didn't do "smiling and small talk and eye contact" (21.33).
    • Park gets home before Eleanor and tells his mom that she's coming over. "Just… be cool" (21.41), he says to his mom. Parents, right?
    • When Eleanor gets there, she looks angry, which Park knows really means she's nervous. She meets Park's mom, which is the most awkward moment ever; Eleanor fails at trying to smile.
    • They sit on the couch together, but Eleanor is miserable. She starts to cry silently and tells him she's going home, saying, "I shouldn't be here, I'm going to embarrass you" (21.84). Oh, Eleanor.
    • Park begs her not to leave. They sit together for about twenty more minutes, and then Eleanor can't take it anymore, and goes home.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor definitely thinks Park will break up with her now. She thinks his dad's photo looked "just like Tom Selleck" (21.115) and that the whole family looks adorable; his mom, in fact, "looked exactly like a doll" (21.116). His mom is much tinier than Eleanor, and Eleanor thinks they don't even look like the same species. 
    • Eleanor concludes that Park will break up with her because she's a "huge mess. Because she couldn't even be around regular people without freaking out" (21.120). She thinks Park's house is "normal" and "perfect" (21.120) compared to her own living situation, and that Park's perfect family doesn't fit at all with the other messed-up families in their neighborhood. 
    • Eleanor thinks she would never belong in Park's house: "She never felt like she belonged anywhere, except for when she was lying on her bed, pretending to be somewhere else" (21.124).
  • Chapter 22

    Eleanor

    • On the bus, things are awkward with Park. Eleanor asks him if he's over her, and Park says no, but he's a little bit angry with her. 
    • Eleanor thinks he's angry for her for something she can't help: "Like for being weird… or for hyperventilating in your living room" (22.20). Park disagrees. He tells her he's mad because he feels like she made up her mind to leave before she even came into his house.
    • She tells him she felt like she shouldn't be there, and more than that, she didn't feel like Park wanted her there.
    • Based on Park's reaction, "she knew she was at least a little bit right" (22.25). The two of them have an upset, tense moment.
    • The kids in the back of the bus start chanting "Go. Big. Red." (22.29) at Eleanor.
    • When they get off the bus, Park takes off his coat and drops his backpack. Eleanor tells him to stop, but Park says he's "ending this" (22.44), by which he means the bullying. 
    • She tells Park that if this is for her, to stop because she doesn't want him to do it, but Park is too furious. Steve gets off the bus and makes another nasty remark to Eleanor, and Park snaps. He shoves Steve toward the bus, and when Steve shoves back, Park steps back, spins into the air, and kicks Steve in the mouth. They start fighting in earnest, in front of everyone. Finally, Park and Steve are pushed apart. Steve's bleeding from the mouth, and Park's face is covered with blood. "Leave… my girlfriend… alone" (22.70), Park says. Steve says he didn't know Eleanor was Park's girlfriend. 
    • The assistant principal takes Steve and Park into school, and Eleanor's left with Park's backpack and coat. Eleanor is stunned. "She didn't know what to do with herself […] She didn't know how to feel" (22.77). She isn't sure if she's supposed to be happy about being called Park's girlfriend, or mad at him for fighting.
    • Park's not in class for the rest of the day, and he's not on the bus after school. Everyone on the bus is still talking about the fight.

    Park

    • Park is suspended from school for two days, and Steve's suspended for two weeks because "this was his third fight of the year" (22.88).
    • Park's mom is so angry she won't pick him up; when Park's dad shows up, the principal "thought he was Steve's dad" (22.89). 
    • Park has a black eye and a broken nose, but doesn't go to the hospital. Steve, however, does go to the hospital with a loose tooth and broken finger.
    • Park's dad tells him that taekwondo is for self-defense, but is totally impressed when Park tells him he did a jump reverse hook kick. 
    • When they get home, Park's mom is inconsolable. She tells him he was fighting "like white trash dumb-monkey" (22.107); she's never been this mad at him before.
    • Park's dad defends him, saying Park was "sticking up for some girl the kids pick on" (22.118). Park corrects him and says she wasn't some girl, she was his girlfriend. 
    • Park's mom grounds him.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor goes to Park's house after school to drop off his books. His dad answers the door and goes to check with Park's mom, and Eleanor overhears him say, "With a nickname like Big Red, I expected her to be a lot bigger" (22.129).
    • Park's dad lets her in. She tries to leave, but Park's dad tells her to come in and see Park, because he's sure Park would want to see her.
    • Eleanor goes into Park's room for the first time, and gasps when she sees his face—it doesn't look pretty. She sits down on his bed and nearly falls over, not knowing it's a waterbed; Park nearly tips over, too. They both apologize to each other, and he silently starts to cry. "Did I ruin everything?" (22.157) he asks. Eleanor tells him it's not possible.
    • She also tells him that kids are still going to make fun of her, and she asks him not to start fights every time they bully her. "Promise me that you'll try not to care" (22.169), she says. "Because it doesn't matter to me, Park. If you like me […] nothing else matters" (22.169). Park corrects her. He doesn't like her, he… well, fill in the blank.
    • Even though Park's not at school for the next two days, no one bothers Eleanor at school all day. 
    • She finds "more pervy stuff" written on one of her books that day: "pop that cherry" (22.177). This time, she rips off the book cover.
    • Eleanor's mom secretly gives her two new pairs of Goodwill jeans. She has to hide any purchases from Richie, and when Eleanor's mom finds money, she tries "to spend it on things Richie would never notice […] It was like she was keeping them all alive behind his back" (22.183-184). Maisie gets a bag of partially clothed Barbie dolls.
    • On Friday morning, Park is waiting for Eleanor at the bus stop.
  • Chapter 23

    Park

    • Even though Park's grounded, he feels "less anxious now—more relaxed" (23.5). He thinks maybe it's because he has "nothing left to hide" (23.5)… and also, that kick was awesome.
    • Park tells Eleanor he wants to try having her come over again. He's grounded, though, so their next try will have to wait.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's reality at school is changing, because everyone knows she's the reason Park kicked Steve—"There was a new kind of whispering when she walked down the halls" (23.21). 
    • DeNice and Beebi ask Eleanor to tell them all about the fight, "every gory detail" (23.24); DeNice even buys Eleanor an ice cream cone, because she hates Steve so much.

    Park

    • Park's mom says he's grounded forever, but Park's dad says he can be ungrounded when he learns to drive a stick shift. "Then you can drive your girlfriend around" (23.44), his dad says. "No girl. Grounded" (23.49), his mom disagrees. Looks like we've got a difference of opinion here. But despite their disagreement, Park's parents are amazingly affectionate with each other. 
    • Park's mom starts to talk about Eleanor and tells Park she doesn't want Eleanor to come over, calling her a "trouble girl," and a "very weird girl" (23.57); "Good girls don't dress like boys" (23.65), she says. Park's dad kicks Park out of the room, presumably to talk to his mom about Eleanor.
    • Park goes next door to visit his grandparents. He stays for dinner, and while at his grandparents' house, he looks at the old photos of his parents in Seoul. His mom was eighteen, "only two years older than Park" (23.76).
    • Park's dad had told him everyone thought his mom was pregnant because they got married, but she wasn't—"We were just in love" (23.77), his dad said. 
    • Park "hadn't expected his mom to like Eleanor […] but he hadn't expected her to reject her, either" (23.78).
    • When Park gets home, his dad tells him he's not grounded anymore. More than that, his dad says his mom is sorry for what she said about Eleanor. His dad says his mom's just worried about him, and she wants to invite Eleanor for dinner. "So that she can make her feel bad and weird?" Park asks. "Well, she is kind of weird, isn't she? […] Isn't that why you like her?" (23.94-97) Park's dad says. 
    • Park can't wait to tell Eleanor the next day.
  • Chapter 24

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor feels guilty, but sometimes she sleeps through the yelling in her house; sometimes Maisie gets in bed with her. "Maisie wouldn't let Eleanor see her cry during the day, but she shook like a little baby and sucked her thumb at night" (24.3). All of Eleanor's siblings have "learned to cry without making any noise" (24.3). What a chilling life skill. 
    • Tonight, however, Eleanor wakes up to a different noise: slamming doors and gunshots. She reacts immediately, figuring Richie must be involved in something scary—gangs, or drugs. 
    • She crawls through the window and runs to the house next door. Her neighbor, Gil, who looks "mean and mad as spit" (24.12), answers the door, and Eleanor asks to use his phone to call the police. She calls 911 and waits in Gil's kitchen; he doesn't offer any other help, and shuts the door after her when she leaves to meet the cops.
    • The cops tell Eleanor to crawl in through the window again and open the door for them. Eleanor thinks, "the next time she called 911, she was going to request cops who wouldn't send her alone into an occupied building" (24.29). We're with Eleanor on this one—yikes.
    • Eleanor gets back into the house, opens the front door, and runs back into her room. She hears the police enter the house, and Richie shouting; her mom comes into the bedroom, puts a hand over Eleanor's mouth, and tells her not to say anything: "If they ask, say it was a mistake. This was all a mistake" (24.39). 
    • Eleanor hears the police talking to Richie, and then hears them drive away. Richie actually comes into the kids' bedroom (he never comes in, apparently) and asks Eleanor what she was thinking.
    • Eleanor's mom tries to defend her, and Eleanor doesn't say anything. Richie punches the door: "Are you trying to get rid of me? Did you think you could get rid of me?" (24.52) he rants at Eleanor. 
    • Eleanor hides in her mother's shoulder, but "it wasn't a protection. It was like hiding behind the thing in the room he was most likely to hit" (24.53).
    • Richie tells Eleanor never to call the police again, yells a few more threats, and slams the door. Eleanor's mom explains that Richie was trying to scare off some kids in the park with the gun, and then leaves. The kids all try to be quiet, and try not to cry. 
    • Eleanor whispers to all of them, "It's okay now" (24.62).
  • Chapter 25

    Park

    • Park thinks Eleanor doesn't seem right the next day; she doesn't talk on the bus, just leans on Park. 
    • He doesn't tell her his news, yet.

    Eleanor

    • She can't figure out where she would go this time, if she needed to leave her house. She knows she can't go back to the Hickmans, because her mom asked if Eleanor could stay with them for a few days, and then didn't come back for a year.
    • When Richie kicked Eleanor out, she hadn't seen it coming, because "she never thought it could happen […] and she never ever thought her mom would go along with it" (25.18). She figures Richie must have known that her mom's loyalties had somehow shifted. 
    • Finally, we find out what happened that day, when Eleanor was kicked out: She thinks it was really her fault—that she was "asking for it" (25.19). She was typing song lyrics on an old typewriter in her room, which she loved. Richie was in a terrible mood (hung over, it seems), and her mom was hovering around him, offering to bring him things to help. "Relentlessly submissive," Eleanor remembers. "It was humiliating to be in the same room" (25.22).
    • As Eleanor was typing the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair," Richie yelled at Eleanor's mom to make Eleanor be quiet.
    • Eleanor's mom asked Eleanor to be quiet, but "without really thinking about why" (25.26), Eleanor keeps typing. 
    • Richie stormed upstairs, picked up the typewriter, and threw it into the wall hard enough to send it through the plaster, shouting and cursing at Eleanor, screaming things like "BEGGING FOR IT" (25.41) at Eleanor. Eleanor told him she hated him, and then she cursed at him in return; "In Eleanor's head, the house shook" (25.50).
    • Eleanor's description is terrifying: She was too scared to even move when her mom came to pull her out of Richie's way. Her mom pushed her down the stairs, presumably to get her out of Richie's path, and once she got out of the house, she just kept running down the sidewalk. Eleanor's mom came out of the house and took her to a neighbor's. 
    • Eleanor thinks now that if she'd known what was about to happen, she would have gone back to say goodbye to her siblings. And maybe she would have begged Richie for forgiveness.
    • She hopes Richie can't tell that she would still beg for forgiveness if it meant she could stay.

    Park

    • Eleanor doesn't pay attention in class or talk much all day. She just leans on Park. Park finally tells her he's not grounded anymore, and tells her she can come over again, but she doesn't really react. 
    • Park asks her if she still misses him, and she looks like she's about to cry. "It felt like she was slipping away," Park thinks, but she tells him she's "just really tired" (25.82-83).
  • Chapter 26

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wants to "lose herself" in Park, but she's afraid that "If she showed him how much she needed him, he'd run away" (26.1-2).
  • Chapter 27

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wakes up feeling better. Her mom gives her Richie's leftover breakfast and a thrift shop glass flower to wear on her jacket, and puts vanilla behind her ears; she tells her mom she might go to Tina's after school.
    • When she gets to the bus stop, Park is waiting for her. In a much better mood than the previous day, she tells him she can go to his house after school. She apologizes for the previous day, and quietly flips out about how much she likes him.

    Park

    • Park "almost told her all the things his mom had said about her" (27.25). He doesn't want to keep secrets from Eleanor, but this doesn't seem like the kind of thing he should share. And she's in such a good mood that he doesn't want to spoil it. 
    • Park likes that Eleanor doesn't seem to have any "girls' clothes." He thinks "maybe that was another gay thing about him, but he didn't think so […] All the men's clothes she wore just called attention to how much of a girl she was" (27.30).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor writes Park a funny letter in Spanish class that translates to "I want to eat your heart" (27.37). She tries to be happy rather than nervous, reassuring herself that Park's family must be all right since they raised him.
  • Chapter 28

    Park

    • Park calls home from school, using his counselor's phone, to let his mom know that Eleanor's coming over after school. He knows his mom isn't really fine with it, and he tells her to be nice.
    • Park "could tell Eleanor was nervous on the bus" (28.8), so he tries to distract her by talking about comics. 
    • They get off the bus together at Park's stop and have a supremely awkward conversation, probably because they're both nervous. Park tries to compliment Eleanor, and she argues back. He ends up telling her she looks like a "sad hobo clown" (28.46), but that he loves it. She smiles.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor's been thinking about kissing Park when his mom opens the door, so she's glad her thoughts were interrupted, because she has no idea how to kiss anyone.
    • Eleanor's sure that Park's mom hates her. Or maybe "she hated the idea of Eleanor, of a girl seducing her firstborn son right in her living room" (28.54).
    • Eleanor tries really hard to concentrate on how nice it is to be with Park, but "it was taking too much of her concentration just keeping herself together" (28.56). She thinks Park's house is perfect and boring, and she doesn't really want to like it, but she keeps thinking about how nice it would be to live in a house like Park's.

    Park

    • Park thinks that Eleanor was right: "she never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something" (28.60).
    • Just sitting on the couch with Eleanor is exciting—Park thinks it feels like fresh air in the room. She wouldn't stay for dinner or hold his hand, but she said she'd come back if his parents said it was okay. 
    • Eleanor comes over again Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday Park's dad asks Eleanor to stay for dinner. Park's stunned when she says yes.
    • She's very nervous, but she watches a movie with them afterward, and allows Park to hold her hand. Park's dad makes Park walk her home. 
    • Eleanor tells Park he can't walk her all the way home, of course. They start walking, and Park makes an excuse to divert Eleanor into his grandparents' driveway next door, where they're out of sight. Park tells her, "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'" (28.87). 
    • When Eleanor doesn't say anything, and doesn't move, Park leans in; she tells him she's never kissed anyone before so "It's going to be terrible" (28.94).
    • Park kisses her, and it "wasn't terrible." Eleanor's so nervous that it makes Park feel calmer in comparison, even though he doesn't have a lot of experience either. 
    • When he pulls away, he asks if she's okay. She nods, and he kisses her again. 
    • And guess what? "The second time was even less terrible" (28.106). Practice makes perfect.

    Eleanor

    • When she gets home, Richie asks Eleanor where she's been. She says she went to her friend Tina's house. "Giving up on men already?" (28.115) Richie says, which is, of course, a totally creepy comment. 
    • Eleanor goes into her room, gets into bed with her clothes on, and rests her forehead against the window.
  • Chapter 29

    Eleanor

    • When Eleanor sees Park at the bus stop, she starts giggling "like a cartoon character" (29.1).

    Park

    • When Park sees Eleanor, he wants to "sweep her up in his arms" (29.3).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks Park seems taller, even though he's the same height.

    Park

    • Park thinks Eleanor's eyelashes are "the same color as her freckles" (29.6).

    Eleanor

    • They talk about the White Album, but it's clear they're not really thinking about it. Both of them just seem happy, and they can't stop laughing.
  • Chapter 30

    Park

    • Cal keeps trying to get Park to come out with him to see Kim; this time, he asks Park to a basketball game. 
    • Cal tells Park that he and Kim are going out. 
    • Park doesn't even consider going, because he doesn't want to go anywhere without Eleanor, and she "didn't seem like the basketball-game type" (30.11).

    Eleanor

    • DeNice invites Eleanor to "Sprite Nite" with them. Eleanor says she's not allowed to go out. They try to persuade her, because they know she goes to Park's house (she had to tell someone, after all), but she can't imagine going out with anyone: "Thinking about going out with Park, in public, was kind of like thinking about taking your helmet off in space" (30.21).

    Park

    • Park's mom says that they need to start doing homework if Park and Eleanor are going to spend all their time together after school.
    • They do their homework in the kitchen, which is tough for Park to handle, since they're practically alone. 
    • "So we should be doing alone things" (30.40), he says. 
    • Park notices his name written on Eleanor's book cover, but as he's looking, he notices another profane message written there, too.
    • Eleanor clearly didn't know it was there, and she's humiliated. Park says he thought it had stopped, and wants to know why she didn't tell him. "Why would I tell you?" she asks. "It's gross and embarrassing" (30.61). 
    • Park wants to help, and tries to figure out who would have written it, but Eleanor doesn't want to take the messages seriously. Eleanor reveals that she thinks it's Tina, because "Tina's a monster," but Park can't quite wrap his head around the idea. He knows Tina can be a bully, but Tina's also defended Park from Steve. "I've known Tina since we were kids," Park says. "We used to be friends" (30.83).
    • Park tells Eleanor that he and Tina used to "go together" in sixth grade. Eleanor is shocked. Park honestly doesn't think Tina would do something this awful to Eleanor. He asks Eleanor if she wrote the messages herself.
    • Eleanor gapes at him, then packs her things. Needless to say, she's pretty upset.
    • Eleanor leaves just as Park's mom comes in.

    Park

    • That night in bed, Park tries to figure out why he defended Tina. He remembers that when Tina asked him to go with her, he said yes, because "going with Tina was such powerful social currency. Park was still spending it" (30.112).
    • Park thinks there are only two reasons no one calls him racist nicknames, or bullies him: his dad (a huge, strong veteran) and because he went out with Tina.
    • Park also thinks Tina still might like him a little bit.
    • This is all kind of difficult for Park to understand: "He thought he was over caring what people thought about him. He'd thought that loving Eleanor proved that. But he kept finding new pockets of shallow inside himself. He kept finding new ways to betray her" (30.123).
  • Chapter 31

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor doesn't go to the last day of school before Christmas break.

    Park

    • Park wants to apologize the next day, but when Eleanor isn't there, he doesn't feel like it anymore. He's incredibly frustrated that it's "so easy for her to cut herself off whenever she felt like it" (31.4). 
    • Instead he says "I'm sorry" in the general direction of Eleanor's house.

    Eleanor

    • Home alone without Richie, Eleanor has the chance to leave her room, but she doesn't; out of batteries and reading material, she just stays in bed. 
    • When she finally comes out, her little brother Mouse asks why she's crying. "Is it because you hate Dad?" he says. "Yes" (31.15-16), Eleanor responds, though she backtracks after her mother overhears, and goes back to her room.
    • Eleanor muses that no one goes to check on her, because "maybe her mom realized that she'd pretty much forfeited the right to ask questions for all eternity when she dumped Eleanor at somebody's house for a year. Or maybe she just didn't care" (31.20-21).
    • Eleanor still can't deal with the fact that Park took Tina's side, or that he thought she wrote those things on her notebook.

    Park

    • After a week of Christmas break, Park's dad asks him if he's broken up with Eleanor; though his dad is sympathetic, he doesn't know how to give him advice. 
    • It seems like his dad wants him to get Eleanor back, because he sees how distraught Park is.

    Eleanor

    • After that same week, Eleanor's mom wakes her up early to walk to the store; it's cold, and it takes them forty minutes to get there. 
    • Eleanor's mom buys them coffee and day-old pastries at the store, and they go to the bargain bin; then they walk to the Goodwill, where Eleanor reads old sci-fi magazines. 
    • She feels better on the walk home, and nearly confides in her mom: "She felt it all right at the back of her throat, like a bomb—or a tiger—sitting on the base of her tongue. Keeping it in made her eyes water" (31.49).

    Park

    • Park rides his bike past Eleanor's house until Richie leaves one morning, and when Ben comes outside to play, Park asks if Eleanor's home. Ben refuses to tell him, so Park leaves.
  • Chapter 32

    Eleanor

    • On Christmas Eve, the annual box of fruit from Eleanor's uncle arrives, and Eleanor's siblings fight over the box as usual. Eleanor hopes Ben wins. Ben's just been forced to move down to the basement because Richie said Ben was "too old to share a room with girls and babies" (32.3); Ben's absolutely terrified of basements, though, and has already been reprimanded for trying to sleep at the top of the stairs.
    • Eleanor's uncle has sent a letter asking if Eleanor would like to come for the summer. Richie starts arguing, asking Eleanor's mom what her brother knows about teenage girls. Richie tells Eleanor's mom that in high school, her brother "let her get pregnant" (32.11).
    • Richie yells at Ben and Maisie to stop shouting about the box, and actually distributes Christmas presents to the kids (by throwing them on the floor, in most cases). He has presents for Mouse, Ben, Maisie, and Little Richie, but not Eleanor. Instead, he gives Eleanor fifty dollars and tells her, "Buy yourself some normal clothes" (32.22); Eleanor thanks him.
    • Eleanor's siblings are thrilled. Richie stays home all day, and Eleanor goes to her bedroom to get away from him. All she wants to do is see Park.
    • Eleanor's mom comes in later to make her go with the whole family to the grocery store. Eleanor wants to stay home, because Richie's been "drinking all day" (32.36), but Eleanor's mom assures her that Richie "never has a problem with driving" (32.36). 
    • Eleanor's mom says that Eleanor can't keep undermining the family, and can't keep "throwing tantrums" about it. "I have to think of myself," she says. "In a few years, you'll be on your own, but Richie is my husband" (32.38).
    • Eleanor thinks her mom almost sounds sane, "if you didn't know that she was acting rational on the far side of crazy" (32.42).
    • Eleanor goes with them to the store, and when they get there, Eleanor gives her mom the fifty-dollar bill. Her mother doesn't even say thanks.

    Park

    • Park's family is also shopping for Christmas dinner, and his mom spots Eleanor in the market. Park wants to leave, but his mom asks if he wants to say hi, but he doesn't think Eleanor would want him to, even though he's dying to see her; plus he's worried about what might happen if Richie sees him. 
    • Park's mom spends the rest of the afternoon in her room, and after his dad goes to check on her, he tells Park they're going to Pizza Hut for dinner, even though it's Christmas Eve. Park notices that when his mom finally leaves her room, her eyes "were red, and she didn't bother reapplying her eye makeup before they left" (32.69).
    • When they get home, Park goes to his room to be alone, but his mom comes in and holds out a present for Eleanor. His mom starts to explain, in halting English: Eleanor comes from a big family, and so did she, in Korea. "In big family […] everything... everybody spread so thin," she says. "Thin like paper, you know?" What Park doesn't realize is that suddenly, his mom can completely relate to Eleanor. 
    • Park's mom apologizes for how she treated Eleanor initially. Park's dad appears, comforts his mom, and tells Park, "Your mom just wants you to be happy. Don't puss out on our account" (32.89). 
    • Late that night, Park runs over to Eleanor's. He taps on Eleanor's window. She's terrified, but motions that he should go to the elementary school.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks someone's trying to break into the house, and is shocked (and scared) to see Park outside her window. "Shots had been fired for less" (32.107), she thinks. 
    • Eleanor puts on more clothes and climbs out the window, thinking about how happy it would make Richie to kick her out for this.
    • Park's waiting for her on the school steps, and runs toward her when he sees her, and immediately starts kissing her. They both start crying.
    • Park apologizes and tells her he was wrong about everything. Eleanor says she's sorry, too, for acting angry all the time. She says she's not sorry about getting angry over Tina, though. "Don't even say her name," Park says. "She's nothing and you're... everything" (32.127).
    • They stay outside, kissing, for as long as they can, and then Park begs her to come see him. She tells him she'll come the day after Christmas.
  • Chapter 33

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor sleeps in on Christmas Day. Her mom comes in to tell her she'll talk to Richie about letting Eleanor go away to her uncle's, but Eleanor says she wants to stay. She pretends to go back to sleep.

    Park

    • Park also sleeps in on Christmas Day. Everyone's waiting for him to open presents, including a new "KISS ME, I'M IRISH" shirt. His dad gives him an empty key ring—Park's sixteen, but he doesn't care about getting his license. He doesn't want to give up any time with Eleanor. 
    • Eleanor's told him she shares a room with all of her siblings, and can't risk sneaking out again.
    • They sit on the back steps of the school talking about Eleanor's siblings, Park still holding her hand. He realizes he's never touched Eleanor "anywhere below the chin or above the elbow," but it doesn't seem to matter—he doesn't want to upset her, and besides, "her hands and face were excellent" (33.38).
    • Eleanor tells Park her siblings are crazy. Maisie, she says, is "mean. And she fights like a street person" (33.44). Park asks if Richie hates them, too, and Eleanor tells Park she doesn't want to talk about Richie. She says that Richie hates everyone, especially her mom, and when Park wonders why her mom doesn't leave, Eleanor says, "I don't think there's enough of her left" (33.64). 
    • Park asks Eleanor if she's scared of Richie. Eleanor says no, but she just has to be "invisible" (33.70).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor has Christmas dinner with her family. The food is great, because Eleanor's mom is a great cook if she actually has good ingredients. She makes a special dessert that she only ever makes at Christmas. 
    • Richie had been drinking all day, in "the kind of good mood that was just on the edge of a bad one. They were all waiting for him to cross over…" (33.83), which he does as soon as he sees what Eleanor's mom cooked for dessert. Instead of making pumpkin pie, she made rice pudding, Eleanor's grandmother's recipe. Richie hurls the bowl of rice pudding against the wall. He drives off to buy pie, and Eleanor's mom serves the pudding to everyone.
  • Chapter 34

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor goes to Park's the next day. She gives him his Christmas present right away, which is an old edition of The Catcher in the Rye.
    • She's written an inscription in it, but we don't get to find out what it is. Park gives her two presents, one from his mom—perfume he asks her not to wear—and from him, something he hopes no one will notice but Eleanor: a silver necklace with a pendant in the shape of a pansy. 
    • "I'll understand if you can't take it" (34.29), he says, but Eleanor really wants it.

    Park

    • Park's nervous about the necklace. He spent most of the money he'd been saving for a car stereo on it, and he thinks she won't take it. 
    • She does, though, and he fastens it around her neck, feeling like he wants to "pull on the chain, to pull it into his chest and anchor her there" (34.40).

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor plays cards with Park in his kitchen, and chats with his mom; she tells Park's mom that her mom is Danish, and Park is surprised to find out.
    • Eleanor's been thinking about Park's request that they be "totally open and honest with each other" (34.58), but she's still worried about sharing the gory details of her family life with him. So she doesn't tell Park the entire truth about her family's Christmas, instead she just mentions her mom's cookies and the movies they watched. 
    • Eleanor spends the rest of vacation at Park's house, though her mom thinks she's at Tina's house. Eleanor's mom offers to have Tina come over, but they both know Eleanor can't have friends over: "Nobody brought friends into their house" (34.67).
    • Eleanor remembers that when her parents were still together, they always had lots of people at their house; there were parties all the time. She remembers that after her dad left, her mom's friends still came over. 
    • And then Richie happened. Richie would see her mom walking to the grocery store on his drive to work, and stopped to ask for her number one day. She remembers her mom talking about how Richie said, "she was as pretty as a spring day" (34.75).
    • Eleanor was twelve at the time, and remembers thinking that no one could do worse by her mom than he dad already had. "She didn't know there were things worse than selfish" (34.78) yet.
    • Staying at Park's house so much has messed with Eleanor's bath routine—because of Richie, there's only one safe time for Eleanor to take a bath in the house, and that's when he's not around.
    • Tina mouths an insult at Eleanor when they're at school. DeNice and Beebi rally and try to make Eleanor feel better, and they talk about how cute Park is.

    Park

    • Cal asks Park about Eleanor, saying, "Everybody knows" (34.99). Cal wonders why Park hasn't told him, and Park says he didn't think Cal would understand. 
    • Cal insists that Park spill the details if he and Eleanor are sleeping together, which Park responds to by saying that this is exactly why he hasn't talked to Cal about Eleanor this whole time.
  • Chapter 35

    Eleanor

    • One night when Eleanor's leaving Park's house, Park's dad stops her as she's on her way out. He tells her that it's the last time he's going to invite her to stay for dinner, because she has a standing invitation. 
    • He tells Eleanor that he knows her stepdad, and that he knows Richie's a tricky dude (to say the least), so if she feels better being at their house, then she should be at their house. He and Park's mom would like nothing more.

    Park

    • Park's now with Eleanor every night, and still longs for more. Park wants Eleanor to come hang out in his room, but Eleanor doesn't want Park's mom to think badly of her. 
    • Park thinks his mom likes Eleanor more than she used to, though she hates Eleanor's clothes; Eleanor is super polite and tries to make conversation with Park's mom.
    • One night Eleanor asks Park's mom about being a beautician, and Park's mom suggests that they have a "makeover night" (35.43). 
    • Park tries to talk his mom out of it, saying that Eleanor doesn't need a makeover. Park's mom promises not to cut Eleanor's hair, and suddenly it looks like this makeover might be happening.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor, horrified, sits in the shampoo chair in Park's garage. She's dying of embarrassment and doesn't know whether she wants Park to stay or leave. She decides she wants Park to stay, to prevent any extreme hair disasters; he doesn't feel like she can refuse anything Park's mom wants to do, after staying for dinner so many times.
    • Park's mom does a hot oil treatment on Eleanor's hair, and applies some makeup, even though Eleanor tells her she doesn't wear makeup. When Park's mom asks her why, Eleanor thinks, "Because makeup is a lie," but she doesn't say that—she says, "It's just not me" (35.72-73).
    • Park's mom tries out eyeliner on Park just to show Eleanor how it looks. Park looks amazing in it: "Eleanor couldn't look away" (35.89).
    • Very efficiently, Park's mom finishes Eleanor's makeover. When Park's dad comes in, he tells Eleanor she looks like a "Solid Gold dancer" (35.107). Oh good. 
    • Park apologizes. Eleanor tries to explain that she hates everyone looking at her. She finally looks in the mirror and thinks she looks like a totally different person. She's really turned off by the whole thing.
    • Park tells her to kiss him. She asks Park if he likes her better like this, and he says she look like herself " with the volume turned up" (35.150). Eleanor can't get over Park wearing eyeliner. 
    • Park's mom comes back in, disappointed to have missed the big reveal. Eleanor carefully thanks her. Park's mom promises to make her a makeup kit.

    Park

    • Park isn't sure how he feels about Eleanor's makeover: "He couldn't figure out why it upset her so much" (35.162).
    • He thinks maybe she tries to look different all the time because "she was different—because she wasn't afraid to be. (Or maybe she was just more afraid of being like everyone else)" (35.165).
    • The next day Park decides to wear black eyeliner to school, and comb his hair straight up. His dad freaks out at breakfast, and his mom's nervous, thinking maybe it's her fault Park decided to wear it. Park's dad yells at him to go wash his face. Park's dad thinks the other kids will make fun of Park, but his mom tells his dad to let Park go to school.
    • At the bus stop, Steve hardly mentions Park's makeup—he just tells Park he looks like Ozzy Osbourne. Eleanor tells Park he looks "unsettling" (35.212), but clearly she loves it: "She kissed him with tongue. On the bus" (35.213).
  • Chapter 36

    Park

    • Park figures he's in trouble with his dad, so he washes his face when he gets home, and tells Eleanor not to come over. Park's mom asks how the school day went, and Park thinks it wasn't really so bad—he didn't mind the little teasing he got, and lots of other people said he "looked cool" (36.7).
    • Park's mom asks if he wants to look like a girl: "Eleanor dress like boy. You look like girl?" (36.10).
    • Park tells her he just likes it—it doesn't feel like a girl to him, it feels like himself.
    • At dinner, Park's dad tells him he's not grounded, but then he says, "I can't think of a single thing I'd like to say to you" (36.24). It seems like his dad's not having an easy time with the eyeliner.
  • Chapter 37

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks about the fact that she and Park are never alone. She feels so close to getting in trouble already, she's not willing to risk sneaking out at night. She's already lied to her mom so many times about Park—she's even told her mom that Tina's mom gave her makeup: "If she just changed Park's name to 'Tina' every time she lied, it only felt like one big lie instead of a million small ones" (37.5).
    • DeNice and Beebi tell Eleanor that Park looks "like a rock star" with the eyeliner, but Eleanor thinks Park "looked like himself […] but bolder […] Like Park with the volume turned way up" (37.13).

    Park

    • Park's also thinking about never getting to be alone with Eleanor. He thinks about getting his driver's license, but then decides that won't happen as long as his dad is still mad at him. Park thinks his dad is angry because Park's not like him.
    • He talks to Eleanor about this, and she tells him his dad loves him. Park agrees, but thinks his dad is disappointed in him.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks Park's mom really does like her better now: "Park's mom was always trying new eyeshadows on her or messing with her hair while she sat at the kitchen table with Park" (37.35). Park's mom comments that she wished she'd had a girl; Eleanor just wishes she had a family like Park's.
  • Chapter 38

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor hates Wednesdays because Park has taekwondo, and it's too cold to play outside so there's no place for anyone to hide from Richie when he's around. 
    • The kids stay in the bedroom, Ben terrified that Richie will send him to the basement early.
    • Maisie climbs up on Eleanor's bed and tells Eleanor that the siblings all know that Eleanor's dating Park. Eleanor asks if they're going to tell her mom, saying, "He'll make me leave, you know." Eleanor says. "If I'm lucky, that's the worst that'll happen" (38.24).
    • Ben says he won't tell, but Maisie tells Eleanor it's not fair that she gets to leave all the time. 
    • When Eleanor tells Ben and Maisie that she can't take them with her to Park's house, Maisie accuses her of not caring about them; Eleanor explains that she does care, but just can't help them. She can't even help herself when it comes down to it.
    • Eleanor begs them not to tell, again. Maisie bargains with her and asks to use Eleanor's comics and makeup. Eleanor agrees, as long as they put it away—if they don't, none of them will have the stuff to play with.

    Park

    • Park also hates Wednesdays, and he wonders if the eyeliner was the last straw for his dad with him, thinking his dad loves him in a "completely obligatory way, like Park loved Josh" (38.57). Park's dad is still ignoring him.

    Eleanor

    • Since Eleanor's siblings know about Park, Eleanor knows it's just a matter of time before her mom finds out. Eleanor knows she's running out of time.
  • Chapter 39

    Eleanor

    • One night, Park's grandma comes over to get her hair done, and Park's telling Eleanor about a new Elvis Costello album. According to Eleanor, "He went through bands like Eleanor went through books" (39.6).
    • At last, Eleanor agrees to go into Park's room with him alone and listen to music. 
    • As Park cues up the tape, Eleanor realizes that he doesn't really spend time with his other friends anymore. "I don't really miss them," Park tells her. "I've never really missed anybody but you" (39.37).
    • Eleanor wants to tell Park "about Maisie and Ben and their days being numbered […] but he wouldn't understand, and what did she expect him to do?" (39.43).

    Park

    • Park plays lots of music for Eleanor, and steals a kiss right after his mom checks on them. Eleanor doesn't discourage him, and they get a little closer, only to crush a bunch of his cassette tapes. Eleanor tells him she should leave soon after, and when Park walks her to his grandparents' driveway, Eleanor doesn't stop.

    Eleanor

    • When Eleanor gets home, Maisie has Eleanor's makeup all over her face and smells like perfume. Eleanor thinks they're definitely going to get caught, but all she can think about is Park's hands on her body—she's self-conscious about her weight, and what she must feel like to him. 
    • But even though she's completely embarrassed, "the maddening part was, Eleanor wanted Park to touch her again. […] That's how good it felt" (39.66).
  • Chapter 40

    Eleanor

    • Park's getting more concerned about the messages appearing on Eleanor's books, telling her to check them after gym class. He thinks she needs to tell someone about them, but Eleanor thinks it would be useless to tell Mrs. Dunne, since she doesn't know who's writing the messages. 
    • Eleanor doesn't want to accuse Tina, because of Tina's history with Park. Eleanor asks Park if Tina was his first kiss, and Park says yes, but they were only twelve, and it didn't matter to him. 
    • One afternoon, after gym, DeNice and Beebi wait for Eleanor as she checks her books for messages. She doesn't find any messages, but when she looks for her clothes, she can't find them. With the help of Mrs. Burt, the gym teacher, they eventually find Eleanor's clothes… flushed in a toilet. Mrs. Burt tells Eleanor, "You've got to stop letting them get to you […] you just encourage them" (40.77).
    • Um… last we checked, Eleanor was doing her best to ignore all the bullying, Mrs. Burt.
    • Mrs. Burt offers to take Eleanor to the school counselor's office. Eleanor realizes she has to walk through the hallways in her skin-tight gym suit, and she's utterly humiliated—so when she leaves the gym, she just walks out of school instead. She throws her wet clothing in the trash, even though they include her new jeans and her favorite shoes, and then thinks twice about it. Eleanor tries to make it to Mrs. Dunne's office, but Park walks out of one of the nearby doors. Ordinarily she'd be thrilled, but she's even more mortified than before, and runs into the counselor's office.
    • Mrs. Dunne drives Eleanor home, where Eleanor tells her mom most of what happened. Eleanor's mom washes out her clothes and tells her she's lucky to have Tina; for a minute, Eleanor is totally confused until she remembers her lie.
    • She's too humiliated to go over to Park's that night.
  • Chapter 41

    Park

    • Park's mom keeps asking him about Eleanor. Josh tells his parents that he has a girlfriend, too, but they say he's too young to have her over to the house. Park's dad says Josh will have to give up Nintendo, and they talk briefly about it. Park thinks it's the most his dad has said to him in ages.
    • No one's really cared about Park wearing eyeliner except for Park's dad, Park realizes. 
    • Park goes to bed early, totally preoccupied with seeing Eleanor in her gym clothes. He can't stop picturing her: "A stack of freckled heart shapes, a perfectly made Dairy Queen ice cream cone. Like Betty Boop drawn with a heavy hand" (41.28).
    • Park feels badly for not asking her what happened, and terrified that he won't be able to look at her now without picturing her in her gym suit.
  • Chapter 42

    Park

    • Park's family is going to be out all the next day at a boat show. Park really doesn't want to go, and he tells his parents he'd rather stay home in case Eleanor comes over; Park's mom agrees to let him stay.
    • Park vacuums and cleans up, not sure what to do with his free time. He falls asleep on the couch and wakes up to the doorbell, already knowing it's Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • As soon as Park opens the door, he pulls her inside, embracing her. She asks if he was sleeping, but he doesn't answer and kisses her instead. He finally pulls back, asking if she's okay. "He was touching her all the places she was afraid to be touched," Eleanor thinks, and "tried one last time to be embarrassed" (42.33-34).

    Park

    • For a minute Park's worried he went too far, because Eleanor doesn't respond to the embrace, but finally she touches him, and it's a different kind of touch than he expects.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor touches Park the way she imagined touching him in her head: "softly, gingerly, just in case she touched him wrong" (42.45).

    Park

    • Park relaxes into Eleanor's touch, and thinks that now's not the time to be shy.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor can only think that at this moment, Park is hers, and not only that, but he wants her to touch him. And "once she started touching him the way she did in her head, it was hard to stop. And because… what if she never had the chance to touch him like this again?" (42.53).

    Park

    • They make their way to the couch awkwardly, and Park tells her he loves her. "I know," Eleanor says, and Park answers, "You're not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know" (42.61), referencing the famous Empire Strikes Back quote. 
    • He pulls up her shirt and says if she's Han Solo, he'll be Boba Fett and "cross the sky" (42.68) for her.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor makes a mental list of things she's just learned in the past two hours. This includes the wonderful discovery of Park's skin (which is smooth and wonderful), her own skin (covered with "super-powered nerve endings") (42.71), and also includes the revelation that "she wanted Park to touch her more than she could ever feel embarrassed" (42.72). 
    • Eleanor doesn't want Park to stop touching her, and she doesn't feel any limits—she doesn't want to stop him, wherever he decides to touch her: "Nothing was dirty. With Park. Nothing could be shameful" (42.74).

    Park

    • Once it starts to get dark, Park thinks they should probably get themselves together in case his parents come home. They can't seem to stop touching each other, but eventually they manage to restrain themselves. Park asks Eleanor if things are going to be weird after this, and Eleanor says no, but then decides it will be weird, though "only for a minute, only a little" (42.48). 
    • Park asks Eleanor about why she was upset the previous day, because she still hasn't told him. She tells him about what happened after gym class, but then stops, saying she doesn't want to talk about it. Park thinks, "maybe Tina really was a monster" (42.110).
    • Eleanor asks Park if the way he acted today had something to do with seeing her in her gym uniform yesterday. He admits that it did, and he's afraid of Eleanor's response, but she says: "Tina would be so pissed" (42.117). 
    • Excellent reaction, Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • Park's parents get home and seem "genuinely glad to see Eleanor" (42.118).
    • When Park walks her outside that night, on Eleanor's way home, he embraces her instead of kissing her. "Do you think we'll ever be alone like that again?" (42.125) she asks. Park says yes, but he's not sure when. 
    • Richie's awake when Eleanor gets home. She needs to use the bathroom, which means she has to walk in front of him. Richie asks where she's been, and Eleanor says she's been at Tina's house. 
    • When Richie asks her what she spent her Christmas money on, Eleanor says she bought a necklace.
  • Chapter 43

    Park

    • Park's parents never fight, but today they're arguing, and they tell Josh and Park to go to dinner next door without them. Josh asks Park what he did wrong, and Park doesn't know. He doesn't think it's about Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor gets a new combination lock for her gym locker from Mrs. Dunne, who tells her they're trying to get to the bottom of the bullying. Eleanor thinks Tina's watching her for a reaction, but Park's been openly affectionate on the bus, and so it's easy for Eleanor to ignore Tina.
    • Park tells Eleanor to come get him right away if anyone steals her clothes, but nothing happens. DeNice and Beebi have also heard about what happened, and vow not to let Eleanor walk alone to lunch again.

    Park

    • Park's mom comes to pick him up at the bus stop and takes him to his driving test. He asks about his dad, but his mom says, "This is our business right now, you and me" (43.27). Park passes the test on his first try, and his mom cries as he gets his picture taken, and tells him he has his license if he needs it, "for emergency" (43.35). Park can't imagine why he would have a driving emergency. 
    • He shows Eleanor his license on the bus the next day. She's mostly excited about the photo on it, because she doesn't have any pictures of Park. He promises to give her a school picture, and they joke again about Eleanor being the Han Solo in the relationship.

    Eleanor

    • Park gives her a school picture, and they hang out in his room again, kissing and looking at Park's old school pictures. He asks for one of her pictures, but of course, she doesn't have one. 
    • Park decides they should take a picture now, and discourages his mom from giving Eleanor another makeover for the occasion. His mom insists on taking a picture of them together, and Park doesn't mind, saying, "I want to remember tonight" (43.65).
    • When Eleanor gets home, her mom offers to watch the bathroom doorway while she takes a bath. Her mom mentions that she ran into a friend whose daughter got pregnant, and says she's so lucky that Eleanor is "smart about boys," because Eleanor's "stayed away from them" (43.80-83).
    • Eleanor's mom adds that Eleanor's not only smarter about boys, but braver, too, saying, "I haven't been on my own since the eighth grade" (43.84). Which explains so much.
    • Eleanor can't think of a safe place for Park's photo, so she puts it in her school bag.
  • Chapter 44

    Eleanor

    • On Wednesday night, even though Park has taekwondo, it's not a terrible day. Eleanor survives just by thinking about Park. 
    • She hangs out with her siblings because Richie has to work late, and she and Maisie try to teach Mouse the hand-clapping rhyme, "Down, down, baby," though he can't seem to get it right.
  • Chapter 45

    Park

    • Park is home with his mom and Eleanor—his dad's out hunting, and his brother is at a friend's house. His mom suggests they go get pizza, and then tells Park that maybe he and Eleanor should just go get pizza. From there, things progress to his mom suggesting they grab dinner and a movie. 
    • Eleanor and Park are stunned, but his mom says she never gets the house to herself; Park decides not to mention that she's actually in the house alone all day.
    • Eleanor's mom gives them money and car keys, and fixes Eleanor's hair. "Park probably help me do your hair on wedding day" (45.25), his mom says. Well, then.
    • They get in the car, and Eleanor requests that they get out of the neighborhood, and avoid driving past the Rail, Richie's favored watering hole. Once they get out of the neighborhood, Park realizes he has no idea where to go.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wants to go to Inspiration Point, "which, as far as she knew, only existed on Happy Days." She swoons over Park's driving skills—she doesn't even have her learner's permit, and what's more, her mom isn't even allowed to drive. (Another stunning detail about her mom's relationship with Richie.)
    • She asks Park if they can just "go somewhere and be together" (45.59).

    Park

    • Park decides to take Eleanor downtown, to show her his favorite record stores. She hasn't really been anyplace in downtown Omaha at all, and he takes her to his favorite pizza place, ice cream place, and comic book shop. 
    • It's a proper date.

    Eleanor

    • Park holds Eleanor's hand all night. The girl working at the record store can't believe it; clearly she likes Park. They walk around downtown, which Eleanor's never seen—she loves it, and had no idea Omaha was so nice.

    Park

    • They end up sitting in Omaha's Central Park. Park tells her they should keep doing this—going out together—and Eleanor agrees. 
    • Then Park says they should go to prom, and though Eleanor initially asserts that prom is lame, she finally agrees to go with him next year, joking about Park learning to drive a stick shift before then, which is a sore spot for Park and his dad.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks prom's never going to happen, mostly because it would be a miracle to sneak it past her mom. And then she thinks about trying to get money for a dress, she realizes she'd spend it on a lot of other things first… but then realizes she'd actually just give it to her mom.

    Park

    • Eleanor not only agrees to go to prom next year, but jokingly adds the Oscars and any other "balls" they're invited to. 
    • They start talking about Park's looks—Eleanor thinks Park's incredibly good-looking, but Park admits, "Nobody thinks Asian guys are hot […] not here, anyway" (45.122).
    • Park points out that there aren't any "super-hot" Asian male celebrities, not even in a show like M*A*S*H, which is set in Korea. 
    • Eleanor tells him she doesn't understand what it means that he's Korean: "I don't know if I'm thinking you're cute because you're Korean, but I don't think it's in spite of it. I just know that I think you're cute" (45.141).
    • Park says he doesn't know what it means to be Korean either. Eleanor asks if it matters, and Park says, "I think so. Because it's the number one thing people use to identify me. It's my main thing" (45.150).
    • Eleanor disagrees, though; she thinks Park's main thing is that he's cute.

    Eleanor

    • When they get back to Park's car, Park realizes it's not as late as they thought... "It was just that kind of night […] Every time she thought about kissing him, he was already closing his eyes" (45.158). 
    • Before he starts the car, things just… happen. They accidentally honk the horn, and Park asks her if they should get in the back seat.
    • She doesn't even answer, just slides into the back of the car, Park landing on top of her.

    Park

    • Park can't believe Eleanor feels so good. 
    • Right before Eleanor pulls her shirt off, she tells him: Bruce Lee, naming a hot Asian guy for him.
  • Chapter 46

    Eleanor

    • When Eleanor gets home, Richie's truck is in the driveway, but everything seems quiet. Which is good; Eleanor feels "radioactive" (46.1).
    • In the end, she and Park had "gone a whole lot farther than she'd been prepared for" (46.2), which Eleanor blames her mom for, thinking that she wouldn't have gone so far if she hadn't felt like it was going to be her only chance. Turns out they went to "second base," but it still felt like a lot to Eleanor—it was also "wonderful" (46.7).
    • Eleanor and Park have another nervous, intense conversation about not wanting to say goodbye to each other, and then Eleanor goes into her house. 
    • When Eleanor gets inside, she hears her mom fighting with Richie. All her siblings are asleep. On her way to bed, she realizes that her fruit crate filled with all of her prized possessions—tapes from Park, makeup, comics—everything is broken and strewn all over the room.
    • On the lid of the box, someone has used one of Eleanor's markers to write a lewd, terrifying message: "do you think you can make a fool of me? this is my house […] i know what you are and it's over" (46.31). 
    • Eleanor immediately knows it's Richie, but worse, she recognizes the handwriting: it's the same handwriting that the lewd messages on her books have been written in all year. This is it. 
    • "Somewhere in the house her mother was crying like she was never going to stop" (46.33).
  • Chapter 47

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor makes a mental list of options. It's blank.
  • Chapter 48

    Eleanor

    • Richie's horrible messages running through her head, Eleanor takes Park's photo out of her backpack, climbs out the window, and takes off down the street. Someone calls out to her—it's Tina, of all people. Tina's in front of Steve's house, and tells Eleanor that Richie has been driving around the neighborhood looking for Eleanor all night. 
    • Eleanor asks if Tina said anything about Park, and she says no, "But somebody's going to" (48.14). Eleanor can only think about getting away, but she doesn't know what to do. Tina takes Eleanor inside, surprisingly concerned. 
    • Steve and Mikey are in Steve's garage. Steve's drunk and ranting, and asks Eleanor if she wants him to kill Richie for her. Tina gives Eleanor a can of beer and tells her to drink it. Eleanor sits, not saying anything, while they listen to music. 
    • Finally, she gets up and says, "I've got to get out of here" (48.36). 
    • Tina tells her to relax, but Eleanor says, "He's going to kill me" (48.38); she tells Tina she needs to leave, and tell Park.

    Park

    • Park can't sleep—he's thinking about Eleanor. 
    • When Steve knocks on his window, and Park leans out, he is shocked to see Eleanor there with Tina.

    Eleanor

    • Park climbs out of the window and drops down onto the ground. Eleanor drops her beer and runs toward him, starting to cry. 
    • They see headlights, and Tina tells Park they should get back to the garage.

    Park

    • When they get to Steve's garage, Steve lights a joint and offers it. Park turns it down—he can't " even imagine a turn of events that would have led Eleanor here" (48.66). Park's best guess is that Steve and Tina kidnapped Eleanor, but that still doesn't make sense.
    • Tina says Eleanor's stepdad is looking for her, and Eleanor says she has to leave; Park takes her back to his house, but thanks Tina first.
    • At Park's house, Park opens up the RV in his grandparents' driveway and lets Eleanor in. She repeats that she has to leave. When Park asks why Richie is looking for her, she says, "Because he knows, because I ran away […] Because it's him" (48.85-87).
    • Park thinks she's not making sense, so Eleanor starts over, telling him everything; "Park's hands started shaking before she was halfway through" (48.95).
    • Park tries to suggest that maybe Richie's just trying to scare Eleanor, but she disagrees, saying, "you don't see how… how he looks at me" (48.97).
  • Chapter 49

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks about how Richie looks at her: "Like he's biding his time […] Like he'll get around to me. When there's nothing and no one else left to destroy" (49.3).
  • Chapter 50

    Park

    • Again, Eleanor insists she has to go. Park's reeling, and suggests "Everything might look different in the morning" (50.3).
    • Eleanor points out what Richie wrote on her books, though. 
    • Park asks if she can go to her dad's house, and Eleanor insists that her dad doesn't want her; she thinks maybe her uncle would let her go to his house in St. Paul early.
    • Devastated, they both settle onto the floor in an embrace.

    Eleanor

    • Park asks her when she's leaving, and she tells him she has to go tonight. She tells Park she'll take the bus, but really she's thinking she might hitchhike, despite the danger.
    • Park tells her he has a better plan: he'll drive. Eleanor insists his parents won't let him, and that his dad will kill him. Park says he'll just get grounded, but couldn't care less.
  • Chapter 51

    Eleanor

    • Park promises to come back to the RV when his parents are home and asleep. She feels bad for a minute about involving him, but then realizes that the worst thing that could happen to Park—being grounded—"was like winning the Price is Right showcase compared to what would happen if Eleanor got caught" (51.11). She has a minute of wondering if her mom and siblings are okay.
    • She thinks her plan will completely fall apart. She thinks about just stopping—not killing herself, but just not continuing somehow.
    • Eleanor knows Maisie and Ben will tell Richie about Park, "because he had them on leashes" (51.21). She thinks about Maisie sitting on Richie's lap that first day, and thinks she should go back for her. (The implications here are pretty intense.) 
    • But then she thinks that bringing Maisie would "ruin everything even worse than it was already ruined" (51.26).

    Park

    • Park takes all his birthday and Christmas money from his room, and writes his parents a note about helping Eleanor due to an emergency. He says goodnight to his mom, and hears his dad come home. 
    • When he thinks everyone's asleep, Park takes his backpack. He sees his dad's new hunting rifle on the table and thinks about taking it, but then doesn't know what he'd do with it. But then he hears his dad's voice—his dad's heard him.
    • He tells his dad the truth: He's leaving to help Eleanor. He tells his dad about Richie, and the "sick notes" he wrote on Eleanor's books; when Park's dad asks about Eleanor's mom, Park explains, "Her mom's… not in very good shape. I think he hurts her" (51.38).
    • Park's dad actually says he can't think of a better plan than the one Park's got, and he gives Park some money, and tells him not to bring Eleanor home if Eleanor's uncle won't take her, saying, "Bring her back here, and we'll figure out what to do next" (51.49).
    • Park's dad says he has only one condition—Park thinks it must be that his eyeliner has to go—but Park's dad simply says, "You're taking the truck" (51.53). 
    • Park's dad watches Park leave, as Park smoothly pulls the stick shift truck out of the driveway.
  • Chapter 52

    Park

    • They start driving. When they pull over for gas, Park gets out to get food and a map, and Eleanor is asleep when he gets back to the truck. He tries to tell himself she's exhausted, but instead he finds he's angry that she's sleeping through their last hours together.
    • He looks at her and tries to remember how things had changed, "how she went from someone he'd never met to the only one who mattered" (52.13).
    • Park wonders why this had to happen now. If they'd had one more year, things would have been different—he would have been older, better able to take care of her.
    • Finally, he pulls off the road to sleep, and pulls Eleanor into his lap. He cries until he falls asleep.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor wakes up in Park's arms, and she would've thought it was a dream, except "her dreams were always terrifying" (52.20).
    • Eleanor kisses Park awake "like it was the end of the world" (52.27). These two, right?

    Park

    • Park thinks about what his life will be like without Eleanor. It's not good.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor knows there's only one of Park: "He knows I'll like a song before I've heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line" (52.34).

    Park

    • Park used to imagine how his parents met. 
    • All of his friends' parents are divorced, but his parents genuinely love each other, and Park wonders about the chances of meeting someone like that.
    • Park thinks that this next kiss with Eleanor needs to last him forever.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks about the first time Park held her hand: "It felt better than anything had ever hurt" (52.47).

    Park

    • Park thinks about holding Eleanor's hand, too: "The first time he touched her hand, he'd known" (52.49).

    Eleanor

    • Nothing with Park is shameful or dirty, Eleanor thinks. Park is the sun. (You know who else is the sun? Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet.)

    Park

    • Park tells Eleanor they have to stop what they're doing, that they shouldn't go any farther; it's implied they don't have a condom. 
    • Eleanor says it doesn't matter, but Park says he needs to believe it isn't their last chance.
  • Chapter 53

    Park

    • They get out of the truck so Park can go to the bathroom, and when he comes back, Eleanor is sitting on the hood of the truck. "She looked beautiful, fierce, leaning forward like a figurehead" (53.2).
    • He sits next to her, and she puts his head on his shoulder. She asks if he really thinks they'll have other chances and Park says yes, but Eleanor tells him she's never coming home, no matter what. Park tells her he loves her, no matter what. "I just can't believe that life would give us to each other, and then take it back" (53.15), Park says. 
    • Park tells her it's up to them not to lose what they have.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor sits next to Park in the truck, and Park calls his parents when they stop at another truck stop. She's still shocked that his parents are okay with this. Park says his parents haven't heard from Eleanor's family and asks if Eleanor wants to call her uncle, but she says no. 
    • Her shirt is a mess, so Park takes off his and gives it to her to wear. When they stop at the next gas station in Minneapolis, Park tells her they're getting close.
  • Chapter 54

    Park

    • Park gets nervous about his driving once they get into the city. Eleanor tells him she's been thinking about it, and she doesn't want him to come inside when they get to her uncle's house. She says she doesn't want Park to wait for her, because if she doesn't have a ride back, she might have more time to talk to her uncle's family while they figure out what to do with her.
    • Park's really not ready to say goodbye; he'd do anything for more time.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks "the only way she was going to get through any of this was by force of will" (54.18).
    • The houses start to look familiar to Eleanor—she's been here before, although not since the year after her dad left. Her uncle's family doesn't have any kids, but she reassures herself that Uncle Geoff has invited her.
    • They pull up to the house, which Eleanor recognizes; Park passes it and drives once around the block.

    Park

    • Park drives around the block and parks a few houses down from Eleanor's uncle's house.

    Eleanor

    • "She had to say good-bye to him. Now. And she didn't know how" (54.30).

    Park

    • Park asks if she remembers his phone number, and she makes a joke, then tells him she's never going to forget. He tells her to call collect as soon as she can, and write lots of letters. He tells her if her uncle sends her home, to go back to his house instead. 
    • And he reassures Eleanor that her uncle isn't going to send her home.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor can't speak, which she thinks is probably for the best. "There's no such thing as happily ever after" (54.47), she thinks. 
    • She wants to tell Park that he saved her life.

    Park

    • Eleanor tells him she doesn't know how to say goodbye, and Park keeps promising himself that it isn't the last time he's going to see her. He tells her she's the bravest person he knows.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor finally gets out of the truck, thinking she "didn't think she could stand touching and untouching [Park] again. The next time she ripped herself away, she'd lose some skin" (54.68).
    • They actually say goodbye to each other.; then Park mouths "I love you" (54.81), and Eleanor goes into the house.
  • Chapter 55

    Park

    • We skip ahead in time. Park doesn't ride the bus anymore, because her mom gives him her old car when his dad buys her a new one. 
    • Park's devastated without Eleanor; he spends a lot of time sitting and letting "whatever was left of Eleanor wash over him until he ran out of air" (55.4).
    • Even Mr. Stessman, the English teacher, feels like it's pointless to read Shakespeare aloud without Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor rides to school with her uncle now. She notices that there aren't any Asian or black kids at her new school. 
    • Eleanor's uncle has already been down to Omaha to pick up Eleanor's things. He's gone three days, and returns only with the black trash bag from her bedroom closet. 
    • He's already bought her new clothes, a bookcase, a stereo, "and a six-pack of blank cassette tapes" (55.12).

    Park

    • Eleanor hasn't called—not that first night, and not since. She hasn't written, either. She never said she would, but Park thought it was "a given" (55.14).
    • When Eleanor left, Park waited. He knew he was supposed to leave, but he couldn't: "He watched the woman who came to the door give Eleanor a big hug, and then he watched the door close behind them. And then he waited, just in case Eleanor changed her mind" (55.17). 
    • Park finally drove away and bought Eleanor a postcard from the first truck stop.
    • When he got home, his parents are relieved. He goes right to his room to write Eleanor a letter.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor was crying when her aunt opened the door. She tells her aunt that nobody died, but still cries. She thinks she shouldn't have told Park to leave, and runs outside to get him, but he's already gone. 
    • She hears her aunt and uncle talking after she goes to bed; they wonder if she's telling the truth. 
    • Eleanor writes her mom a letter saying all the things she's kept bottled up; she threatens to call the police, and asks her mom to think of her siblings.

    Park

    • Park walks by Eleanor's house sometimes. The toys are gone, and he doesn't see any of her siblings. Josh tells him that Eleanor's little brother stopped coming to school: "Everybody says they're gone. The whole family" (55.58).
    • Park's mom thinks it's great, but Park just wonders if his letters are reaching Eleanor.

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor thinks about calling Park from the phone in the spare bedroom—now her bedroom—and she practices dialing his number.
    • Her new friend Dani, who she's in theater camp with, asks if she's ever had a boyfriend; Eleanor denies it when Dani asks if she's ever kissed anyone. 
    • Eleanor decided that if she and Park weren't going to get married, "they were just going to stop" (55.72); she can't think about Park loving her less than he did when she last saw him.
  • Chapter 56

    Eleanor

    • Eleanor can't bring herself to open Park's many letters or packages, some of which seem to contain cassette tapes. 
    • She keeps starting letters to him and can't finish them, and instead throws all of her attempts away.

    Park

    • Park keeps walking to Eleanor's house; sometimes Richie's truck is there, sometimes not. Sometimes, Park "stood at the end of the sidewalk and hated everything the house stood for" (55.77).
    • Steve and Tina elope. Park keeps writing to Eleanor, and then he writes but doesn't send the letters.
  • Chapter 57

    Park

    • And now we're back to that line from our long-ago preface, full circle: "He'd stopped trying to bring her back" (57.1).
    • Tons of little things remind him of Eleanor still, but he's having trouble remembering her in sharp detail now.
    • He stops by Eleanor's house one more time, and Richie pulls up in his truck and gets out, completely drunk. Richie shouts "Who are you?" at Park. "I want to kill you," Park thinks, "and I should" (57.16).
    • Richie falls down, and Park thinks again that someone should kill him. He looks at his own new steel-toed Doc boots, and he hates Richie "more than he thought it was possible to hate someone" (57.25).
    • But he just kicks the ground in front of Richie, and Richie gets a mouthful of mud, and stays on the ground. Then Park walks home.

    Eleanor

    • Park's letters stop arriving. Eleanor still thinks about reading all the ones he's sent, but she doesn't.
  • Chapter 58

    Park

    • Park goes to prom without Eleanor, of course. He takes Cat from work, and when he holds her hand, "it was like holding hands with a mannequin, and it was such a relief that he kissed her" (58.3).
    • The next morning, his dad brings him a postcard from Eleanor. He recognizes her handwriting and "something heavy and winged took off from his chest" (58.8). 
    • The postcard's only three words long. We don't get to find out what it says, but we bet you can guess.