Eleanor & Park(100)By: Rainbow Rowell
Unless Richie was armed, unless he got lucky – Park could do this.
Richie shuffled closer. ‘What do you want?’ he shouted again. The force of his own voice knocked him off balance and he tipped forward, falling thickly to the ground. Park had to step back not to catch him.
‘Fuck,’ Richie said, raising himself up on his knees and holding himself not quite steady.
I want to kill you, Park thought.
And I can.
Park looked down at his steel-toe Docs. He’d just bought them at work. (On sale, with his employee discount.) He looked at Richie’s head, hanging from his neck like a leather bag.
Park hated him more than he thought it was possible to hate someone. More than he’d ever thought it was possible to feel anything …
He lifted his boot and kicked the ground in front of Richie’s face. Ice and mud and driveway slopped into the older man’s open mouth. Richie coughed violently and banked into the ground.
Park waited for him to get up, but Richie just lay there spitting curses, and rubbing salt and gravel into his eyes.
He wasn’t dead. But he wasn’t getting up.
And then he walked home.
Letters, postcards, yellow padded packages that rattled in her hands. None of them opened, none of them read.
It was bad when the letters came every day. It was worse when they stopped.
Sometimes she laid them out on the carpet like tarot cards, like Wonka bars, and wondered whether it was too late.
Eleanor didn’t go to prom with him.
Cat from work. She was thin and dark, and her eyes were as blue and flat as breath mints. When Park held Cat’s hand, it was like holding hands with a mannequin, and it was such a relief that he kissed her. He fell asleep on prom night in his tuxedo pants and a Fugazi T-shirt.
He woke up the next morning when something light fell on his shirt – he opened his eyes. His dad was standing over him.
‘Mail call,’ his dad said, almost gently. Park put his hand to his heart.
Eleanor hadn’t written him a letter.
It was a postcard. ‘Greetings from the Land of 10,000 Lakes,’ it said on the front. Park turned it over and recognized her scratchy handwriting. It filled his head with song lyrics.
He sat up. He smiled. Something heavy and winged took off from his chest.
Eleanor hadn’t written him a letter, it was a postcard.
Just three words long.
I would like to thank some of the people who made this book possible for me – and who made me possible for this book:
First, to Colleen Eickelman, who insisted that I pass the eighth grade.
And to the Bent and Huntley families, who kept me alive with kindness.
To my brother Forest, who promises that he isn’t just saying things because I’m his sister.
To Nicola Barr, Sara O’Keeffe and Natalie Braine for being so fierce and so certain, for making the Atlantic Ocean disappear and, most of all, for looking out for Eleanor.
Thank you, while I’m at it, to everyone at Orion and St Martin’s Press.
Especially to the lovely and insightful Sara Goodman, whom I trusted implicitly as soon as she sat down next to me on the bus.
To my dear friend Christopher Schelling, the best-case scenario.
And finally, I would like to thank Kai, Laddie and Rosey for their love and their patience. (You’re my all-time favorites.)