Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. If fine can be defined as gut-wrenching loneliness and extreme vodka consumption.
Eleanor Oliphant is a young woman, just turning thirty. Since college, she’s worked at the same job, lives alone, values routine drinks 2L of vodka each weekend, and has no friends. Eleanor is okay with that – except that she’s not. Revealed with each new page is the painful depth of her loneliness. Yes, she is alive, but she is not living.
When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.Gail Honeyman Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
She is content to go living her empty existence until two events change everything. First, she finds the man of her dreams. Second, she and a colleague end up saving a man they see collapse on the street.
What follows is both a sad and funny tale of a woman trying to become “normal” as she tries to attract her soulmate and as she experiences true friendship for the first time. As the story unfolds and we are exposed to the depth of trauma Eleanor has experienced, Eleanor’s quirkiness shows us how the life she has built was out of necessity to simply make it through the day. She is a survivor. Eleanor is Eleanor because the fear of any more emotional pain is too much to handle. But as more time passes, Eleanor realizes she can take steps to move on from her past and that only by opening her heart can she truly begin to heal.
If you enjoy books that take you deep into the protagonist’s psyche, I recommend this book. It reveals the complexity of the human mind as it tries to process deep trauma. Her literal perspective on social behavior reveals a commentary of how social interaction is a convoluted dance encompassing actions that are sometimes illogical (e.g., laughing at a joke you don’t find funny).
While Eleanor at first seems naïve and judgmental, she is actually strong and resilient. You can’t help but root for her.
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