I wake up from dreams of losing my hair, pulling it out in clumps, dark shiny nests curled thickly in my hands. In the dream, the woman says I need to take orensia. I look it up this morning— it turns out orencia is the drug that Barbara takes for arthritis. Maybe I am not constitutionally cut out to be human, to bear all the losses. Right now the most awful loss of all seems to be hair. How can a person survive without their hair?

What matters: how much a character wants something. Eleanor and Park is transcendent because of how much Eleanor wants freedom from her terrible, punishing home. The size of Eleanor’s want makes her matter to me. I want her to be free, too. The other thing that makes her matter is the specificity of her character: her red hair. Her playlists. Her courage. Her cool ideas.