Eleanor may be insecure about her full figure and freckles, but she's also courageous enough to withstand bullying, poverty, bad parenting, and worse. She was functionally abandoned by her pot-smoking father. Sabrina, her mom, is afraid to stand up for her, thanks to Sabrina's menacing bully of a new husband, Richie. The bright spot in Eleanor's life is the relationship she develops with Park, another sensitive outsider.
Park is one of the only Asian kids in his school, which makes him feel like a bit of a misfit. He tries to blend in, excuses racism, and tolerates his father's hypermasculine ways, but he also walks his own road. His joy comes from comic books and music—and Eleanor, who helps him feel more comfortable about expressing who he is.
Richie Trout, Eleanor's stepdad, is a flat character—plain evil through and through. He is the quintessential bully and abuser, and he tries to control everyone around him, with varying degrees of success. He is also a coward who resorts to writing nasty comments on Eleanor's schoolbooks to intimidate her.
Sabrina Trout is in an abusive relationship with her second husband, Richie, and she has the bruises to show for it. She allows Richie to control her and her children because she feels she has no other options. Although she makes small rebellious gestures, she is oppressed and afraid.
Jamie Sheridan, Park's dad, sometimes struggles to understand Park, who doesn't embrace his father's traditional concepts of manhood. Jamie can be stern, but he loves his sons and is very affectionate with his wife.
Mindy Sheridan, Park's mom, met her American husband in Korea. She is a devoted and protective parent. Like Eleanor, she grew up in poverty, and she is kind to Eleanor after learning about her difficult life.