Study Guide

Eleanor & Park Abandonment

By Rainbow Rowell


In Eleanor & Park, abandonment primarily pertains to Eleanor and her family, and it's a big part of Eleanor's life. She spent her childhood with a father who never cared about her, and then spent a year in another family's house, thinking she'd been abandoned by her mother.

Once she's back at home, Eleanor repeatedly gets the message that she's not a member of the family—she barely has a place to sleep, she can't take a bath, and most of her possessions are gone. That has to have a big impact, and just might explain why she finds it easier to sever all ties with Park for a while at the end. Abandonment's the only thing she's ever really been shown how to do.

Questions About Abandonment

  1. In Eleanor's head, Richie kicked her out of the house, and she blames herself for it. Is that really what happened? 
  2. How did Eleanor feel about living with the Hickmans? 
  3. Eleanor casually mentions that while she was at the Hickmans, her mom stopped calling her one day, and didn't call for six more months. How do you think Eleanor can be so casual about such a devastating situation? How does this affect her relationship with her mother?

Chew on This

Eleanor's been abandoned in more ways than one: Her mom left her at a neighbor's house, but her dad abandoned her long before that.

Sabrina initially took Eleanor to the Hickmans to save her from Richie, but when she didn't call for six months, she hurt her just as badly.