A key issue revolves around Eleanor and her stepfather, Richie. There are countless times when Eleanor notices bruising on her mother's face. Richie abuses Eleanor’s mother both physically – though Rowell never shows us Richie hitting Eleanor’s mother, Sabrina – and emotionally. Richie yells at and controls Sabrina throughout most of the novel, and Eleanor is so used to it that she can “sleep through the screaming.” Sabrina treads lightly around Richie, so as not to spike his anger, making sure everything is right so Richie won’t hurt her or the kids.
Richie physically abuses the kids, hitting them when they do something wrong, as well as verbally abusing them, calling them insults. The kids go without new clothes or shoes, wearing the few items Eleanor’s mother can get at Goodwill. The children don’t have toothbrushes or toothpaste, nor shampoo or conditioner to wash their hair; they only have access to dish washing soap. They don’t have much to eat, either. All five children sleep in a small bedroom with a bunk bed, the boys on the floor, Eleanor on the top bunk and Eleanor's younger sister on the bottom.
Eleanor deals with bullying at school and at home. At school, her classmate Tina and other students bully her about her size, her hair, and her clothes. Eleanor's father makes comments about her weight, as well as Richie, whose comments are much more vulgar.
Eleanor is an overweight character, and she is constantly bullied about her size. She wears large clothing because her cast-off Goodwill clothing is seldom in her size. In one brief moment with her father, Eleanor says he used to drop "hints about her weight." Richie hurls insults at Eleanor about her appearance. Eleanor does not hate being fat, but dislikes how much of an outcast she becomes because she looks different than anyone else. Park loves everything about Eleanor, body type included.
Tall height is described in a positive manner while short height is described negatively in characters' thoughts.