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I’m sure many of you have read this book, as it was one of the top books of 2020 on many different lists. That happens to be why I read it – many raving reviews, top rated, etc. Well… here is my review of Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman.
On Goodreads, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars, which overall, is a pretty good rating. I thought long and hard before I rated and reviewed this book because I wasn’t sure what to think or say. It took me over 100 pages to finally be drawn into the story; over 210 pages to finally say “OH! WOW!” and want to binge read the rest.
This story follows the life and thoughts of a young woman, Eleanor Oliphant. She lived a traumatic childhood and is learning how to finally navigate society and have a social life as an adult after isolating herself for many years. While the writing style of the book makes it entertaining as you follow Eleanor through drunken stupor and fantasy-like thoughts, I felt as though throughout the whole novel I was left wondering why she was this way. She has weekly Wednesday phone calls with her Mummy readers are led to believe is in prison, which we (SPOILER) later learn, towards the end of the book, are not real and have been a figment of her imagination this whole time.
Most of this story revolves around Eleanor’s secret fantasy of meeting and falling in love with local “rockstar” Johnnie Lomand – as readers learn as the story goes on, Eleanor truly has no idea how real life works and how the social world works, and come to find out, Eleanor learns too, the very hard way. She turns to alcohol as her coping mechanism on many occasions and you read through many pages of wondering how this could possibly end if this is how bad she truly is.. Lying nude, alone, on the floor of her apartment looking for at least one bottle of vodka that isn’t empty. WOOF!
I think my favorite character I met and followed in this story is Raymond, Eleanor’s coworker and eventual “pal.” Raymond helps Eleanor adjust to social life and the real world, without even knowing Eleanor is afraid of the world or why she is the way she is. We are also introduced to Sammy, the elderly man Raymond and Eleanor find lying in the street with his groceries. He’s not a long-lived character in the story, but he brings a lot of joy and love by welcoming Raymond and Eleanor into his life and family, and Eleanor grows a fondness to him as well.
Let’s just say, I felt like this book was all over the place, much like this review. I’m spitting out my thoughts because I felt like the book spit out pieces of the true story, while we tiptoed around it with Eleanor. The whole time I’m thinking, “Just get to the point already! Why is she like this? What happened to her? Why does she have a scar on her face she keeps mentioning? Hellooooo??” BUT by the end, everything finally came together and I thought, “Ok, that all makes sense, but there was really no reason for it all to be drawn out that long for that point.”
It’s a great story, written in a very odd manner, in my opinion. You might find you think differently! (Also, maybe I should’ve given it 3 out of 5 stars based on my actual review…?? I’m still confused on my own level of love for this book.)
Keep calm and read on! The weekend is almost here 🙂