Sunday, July 23, 2017

*Review* Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Genre: Chick Lit
Published: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Viking - Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 327


No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: 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 social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by 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 on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 
The only way to survive is to open your heart.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. 

I've gotta' start by saying that Eleanor Oliphant is not really a likable character. She is pretentious and rude and condescending. She actually seemed like an eighty year old woman trapped inside a twenty-something year old woman's body. There seemed to be a lot of "kids these days!" kind of moments from her. At the same time, it was pretty clear that she doesn't really know how to interact with society in general, kind of like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory (especially the early seasons). Then her obsession with the singer was really borderline illegal, although I could actually relate to her actions there to an extent. If Facebook and Twitter had been around when I was in high school, there are a couple people I would definitely have checked up on rather obsessively. But unlike Eleanor, I understood that these guys weren't necessarily my "destiny." 

Raymond was really the highlight of this book for me. He met Eleanor and instead of writing her off as pretentious, rude, condescending, batty (like most of society has probably done her whole life), he tried to be her friend. I think it helped that they were walking together (because he just couldn't get the clues that Eleanor was not interested in that particular social interaction), when they saw an elderly gentleman collapse at a crosswalk early on in their relationship. That one event provided the basis for their future interactions. But Raymond just kept pushing and pushing to get Eleanor to join him first to visit Sammy at the hospital, then to attend Sammy's coming home party which they were both invited too, and then other things that were not connected to Sammy anymore. And when the big incident happened, Raymond was there. 

We find out fairly late in the book why Eleanor is the way she is. To my untrained eye, she has pretty clearly been suffering from PTSD from a traumatic event that happened in her childhood, but like most mental illness, she knows that she's supposed to just tell people she's completely fine, thank you very much, so her PTSD goes untreated for a long time. 

In the end, I stand by my original statement that she's not a likable character, but rather than writing her off as the bad guy, I feel sorry for her and want good things to happen in her life now. And I'm glad she has a friend like Raymond. 

Overall I give Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman’s debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

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