Intro to Historical Fiction: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

Since this whole class is optional, you can choose to participate (or not) whenever you wish.

However, if you choose to participate, we want to make clear our expectations for that participation.

  • Realize that you should have the book read before you read through the comments. Spoilers will likely appear in the conversations, so please do not be surprised or angry if this happens.

  • Bring reader questions and observations about the text. We will throw our own questions and observations out for you to consider,  but your questions and observations are as important and necessary in this as ours.

  • Please abide by the Thumper Rule when interacting with others:

  • Back up what you’re asking or saying with quotes and page numbers so that we can all follow along.

  • Think about and share possible thematic text connections (classics, YA lit, picture books, poetry, non fiction texts, news stories, movies, YouTube videos). This will be especially helpful information for the teachers among  us, but it’s good thinking for all of us.

Some additional housekeeping thoughts:

  • Please try to respond to be careful about responding to comments – keep main threads together, but try not to get where it is so indented that no one can read what you’re posting!
  • Also consider clicking “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.” when you post a comment. This will keep you informed of continued discussion without having to come back at random intervals to see if there is anything new.
  • Consider introducing yourself briefly in your first post and including a link for your blog if you have one.




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5 Responses to Intro to Historical Fiction: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  1. BJ Neary says:

    I was given the ARC for this book by the head of World Languages and she gushed about this book. Even though this is historical fiction, I think the real story and connections are in the family dynamics, high school relations, and finally, romance:)
    As I read this I kept coming back to Rowell’s portrayal of Eleanor as very real and current. I know many students will read this and say, “there are a few Eleanor’s in our school” and what they mean is poor parenting, being hungry, having no friends you can really trust or bring home, and finally—-no toothbrush! This book has so much students will want to discuss: Eleanor’s mother, her stepfather, Park, Park’s mother and father. The multicultural aspect of Park’s family and his security juxtaposed to Eleanor’s family dysfunction and alcoholism. From the beginning of the book when weird, quirky red head Eleanor enters the bus and is bullied, made fun of and isolated; students will have plenty to discuss. This is a hard-hitting book but it has romantic elements both male and female teens will identify with, argue about and contradict. This book has good discussion fodder for students whether they blog (using technology) or use public speaking in a debate forum. I read this book first (before Aristotle and Dante) and I think it is my favorite book read in 2013.

  2. Jen Eiserman says:

    Sorry I’m late this week, but we went back to school Thursday so things have been a little crazy. Wow, did I love this book! I finished it last week, and I’m still having a hard time letting the characters go. They are so real! There were multiple points while reading when I had to set the book down and just reflect.

    I loved how real Eleanor is. I read an interview with Rainbow Rowell about Eleanor’s weight. Apparently many readers were asking her if Eleanor is truly overweight or if it’s just how she perceived herself. Rowell was fantastic in saying that of course she is overweight. We have these preconceived notions of what females should be. It seems so ridiculous that readers would like Eleanor more if she was skinny and pretty. I loved her because she is real. She comes from a terrible background and, yet, she never feels the need to conform, to keep some of identity a secret, yes, but never to conform. I love that message! This is going to be one of my first book talks of the year because I want students to enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. Terry says:

    Wow, I just binge-read this in one day! I loved it. I think I’ve loved this the most of all the books so far (well, I loved Code Name Verity, too). Just so passionate and real and amazing. And heartbreaking. And beautiful.

    I *still* can’t get over that books set in 1986 are considered “historical fiction”! 😉 I’m really actually interested in the idea that authors are setting their books just far enough back that email/text/all social media is just made invisible. But the importance of music and pop culture is still there, still a shared experience. Hmm.

    I wish I had something more articulate to say! I just really liked this book, the people, the writing. I also like how the adults were portrayed, too.

    I feel like the ending is just like the movie Lost in Translation: everyone gets to decide for himself/herself what those last words are. 🙂

  4. Terry says:

    Oh, I forgot to pick up something that BJ alluded to–I really like that there were some “class” aspects to this book too–as BJ said, contrasting the security of Park’s home experience and the wild unpredictability of Eleanor’s whole life experience: I think that (class/financial security) is really important, and especially important to teens, and something that is not talked about very much, or openly. In fact toward the end of E&P I started to wonder if that is something that would/could drive a wedge between them. Their home/parenting experiences are SO wildly different and neither can truly understand what the other has grown up experiencing…. Anyway. Just another thought-provoking aspect of a great read!

  5. Sarah says:

    Terry brings up a good point about their relationship and how class aspects might affect it. I wonder if that could be a reason for it and also Aristole and Dante being set in the 80s. It seems like society and families are more accepting now, although we still have a ways to go.

    I absolutely ADORE this book. It and Aristotle and Dante are two of my absolute favorite books that I’ve read this year. Both have such authentic characters and relationships that all readers can appreciate.

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