G. Bianco, 2019
While it’s probably safe to assume everyone has at least one moment of awkwardness or one bizarre social encounter, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman take those moments to a whole other level through the titular protagonist.
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine and she’s perfectly satisfied with just existing. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, and weekends filled with frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she'll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
This book was funny, moving, and quirky (in the best way possible), but alongside those adjectives, this book is just beautiful.
We learn that Eleanor is, in fact, not completely fine from the get-go. She adheres to a strict routine and purely does things out of necessity. Through a budding friendship and bizarre crush, the reader sees how Eleanor tries to change her life. Sometimes these changes are for the better, and other changes not so much, but overall, Eleanor’s strange way of interpreting the world is funny and endearing.
Eleanor is a unique character and getting into her mind via first person POV is refreshing. Her logic, while mostly bizarre, is sometimes sound and you can’t help but root for her, while cringing at her awkward social encounters. Her deadpan, and unconscious, sense of humor and her weirdness resonant with the deepest parts of ourselves and shows that opening your heart is tough, but necessary in order to make life worth living.
The story flows very nicely and hits all the right notes. The questions raised in the beginning of the novel are resolved in the end and the story is woven together beautiful. This is not a love story. This is not a mystery. This is simply a story about a woman who learns that life is something worth living. And that is a beautiful thing.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!