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Coming-of-age novel; romance novel; young adult novel
The story is told in a third-person point of view, focusing on what Eleanor and Park do and think. When the story is told from Eleanor’s point of view, the narrative presents the events as though the reader is inside her head, and the same thing happens when the narrative switches to Park’s perspective. The book is very subjective, meaning that the reader gets the story presented through the moods, emotions, and thoughts of these two main characters as the narration switch back and forth between them.
The tone of the book is funny and romantic, yet also bittersweet. From the prologue, the reader knows that Eleanor and Park are destined to be apart, and even though the book presents their love story, there is always a cloud of doom.
The narrative occurs in the past tense. Almost the entire story is framed as a flashback, since in the prologue, Eleanor and Park are already geographically separated.
The novel is set during the school year from fall 1986 to spring 1987, largely in Omaha, Nebraska.
The novel’s prologue provides the book’s most crucial foreshadowing, since it tells the reader that Eleanor and Park will be separated, even though the reader does not yet know who these characters are. Eleanor and Park read Romeo and Juliet at the start of their own relationship, and the many parallels between these lovers and Eleanor and Park foreshadow that Eleanor and Park’s relationship is both intensely love-filled and doomed. Eleanor hides her prized possessions in an empty fruit box, but because there is no privacy in her home, the box is almost begging to be found by Richie.
Even though Eleanor and Park are developing a blossoming romance, their home lives get more complicated, and Eleanor in particular feels increasingly threatened by her stepdad, Richie.
Richie’s actions get worse and worse, and Eleanor doesn’t feel safe in her house.
The climax of the novel comes when Richie destroys Eleanor’s possessions, Eleanor finally confesses to Park how dangerous Richie is, and Park drives Eleanor to Minnesota so she can escape her situation and start a new life.
Park and Eleanor know that they have had to sacrifice their own relationship so that Eleanor can survive, and when they separate, Eleanor can’t bear to keep up their communication, leaving both of them heartbroken, until the final sentence of the novel, which presents some hope.