YAY!!!! Welcome to the first discussion day of the Eleanor and Park Read-Along!!! (I have this thing with multiple exclamation points today).
I’m sorry that I haven’t done a post about it before. I had a crazy week last week as you know. Myself, Tiff at Mostly YA Lit and Rachel at Rachel’s Reading Timbits have joined forces (for the power of good) to do an Eleanor and Park Read-Along. We realized a lot of people we knew purchased the book and decided to read it at the same time (and obviously make an event out of it. Yay to events!). You can find out more of the deets over at Tiff’s blog.
Today is all about Chapters 1-10 and Rachel is starting us off by quoting some of the participants’ thoughts and some discussion questions. You can find that here. I thought I’d post my thoughts and answer some of Rachel’s questions.
WARNING: If you haven’t read Eleanor and Park then I suggest you venture no further because there will be spoilers. If you have read it, coming on then. Don’t dawdle.
CHAPTERS 1-10: MY THOUGHTS
Wow. Rowell has a way with words. You instantly feel sympathy for Eleanor regarding her home life and school but also immense respect in the way she handles it. She’s got strength there that you gotta love. Funny enough, I can relate to Park because a lot of us were probably in that position where we see someone getting teased and given a hard time at school. We want to be able to stand up for someone but when it’s high school, your peers…well it requires a type of bravery that’s slowly coming out of Park and it’s written in a realistic fashion.
I never expected the level of race discussion in this book but I’m really enjoying it. There’s a way that Rowell writes it that is the right amount of serious and humor (the scene with Steve and Mickey right at the beginning and the library scene with Cal). There was a line that stood out describing both the white and black girls laughing at Eleanor during gym, “Laughing at Eleanor was Dr. King’s Mountain.” This is referring to his mountaintop speech and that, by laughing together at Eleanor, had somehow fulfilled the idea of white kids being able to laugh with black kids. That was a subtle and brilliant way of making that point.
I was born in the 90s but the Walkman was still around then so I was excited to see that and I wish the whole “ making mix tapes of songs you like” was still a thing. Their English teacher reminded me of my Creative Writing Professor regarding the memorization of poetry. I was so happy that Watchmen was mentioned and comics in general. It was a great time for comics in the 80s so I fangirled a bit.
Now onto Rachel’s discussion questions which you can find on her blog.
1. I saw a woman in a domestic abuse situation when I think of Eleanor’s mother. My theory is that Eleanor stood up to Richie (step father) and he kicked her out because of it. Her mother didn’t come after her for a year because it would mean angering him. There are moments where you can see her mother trying to be there for her but that toxic situation limits her. It’s easy to blame the mother in this but all I’m thinking is that hopefully she’ll find the strength to take her kids and leave.
2. I have a family were there really isn’t such a thing as privacy in the sense that my parents can come into my room any time they want and nothing is off limits. I obviously have privacy when it comes to my siblings but I share a room with my sister so there’s that. It’s not so much creating a private space externally but creating one in my head. Whenever I’m on the computer or reading a book, I create this mental bubble that can (mostly) withstand any shenanigans that may go on around me.
3. It’s quite obvious that he just wanted to put her out of her misery. The idea of helping an animal when it’s struggling.
4. I LOVE THE 80s! I was born in the early 90s but it was a great time for comics and there were walkmans and crazy clothing styles. I wish someone can make me a mix tapes of the songs they think I should listen to 😦 Or a file in today’s context (not the same).
5. The themes I see emerging in the first 10 chapters are: domestic violence, racism, bullying, mixed race children, poverty…I think that’s it. That’s a lot in the first 10 chapters but it’s written so well that it doesn’t feel like the weight of all of these issues is in it.
See you guys Thursday for the Chapter 11-19 discussions over at Tiff’s blog,
A. A. Omer