Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Book Review
November 9, 2018
Every day for 30-year-old Eleanor Oliphant consists of the same tiresome routines. She wakes up, walks to work, goes home, has a drink, then goes to sleep. Other than her weekly phone calls with her mother, every day ends up being exactly the same as the one before. Eleanor is lonely, and although she is aware of her social detachment, she is not aware that there is any other way for her to live life. She has become so accustomed to her loneliness that it no longer fazes her. She sees life only as something to power through, not something to enjoy. Until one day, when she meets the irritating IT worker, Raymond, who comes to fix her computer at work. Together the two rescue an elderly man who fell while walking out of a grocery store on their way home from work. The man’s recovery keeps them in touch, where their relationship blossoms from a cautious acquaintanceship to an unlikely friendship. Eleanor learns that there is more to life than going through the motions and that things are not always as they may seem.
Written by author Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has many components. Eleanor’s past is bitter and twisted, but her quirkiness and lack of social awareness leave her unfazed. This book is hard to summarize; it is neither sad nor cheerful. Eleanor’s personality will make you laugh and simultaneously make you feel genuine sympathy for her. Her awkwardly charming personality somehow softens the blow of the dark subject matter while simultaneously making you feel even worse about her situation. I enjoyed this novel because of how the author was able to make the reader feel multiple emotions at once. The book cannot be characterized simply as one thing or another. The book is deep and raw, while also being light-hearted and incredibly funny. Guidance counselor Ms. Holeman said, “It was poignantly funny and articulate and reminded me of the power of the human spirit in times of struggle.” Being a counselor, she found the novel “rich with issues relating to family relationships and mental health.”
One may argue that Eleanor’s character is far from believable, but I beg to differ. The reader is made to believe that Eleanor experienced severe childhood trauma. Because of this, she is unable to have successful social interactions with nearly anyone. This causes her to have an incredibly unique point of view of the world and the people around her. Just because we are unable to understand her entirely does not mean that her personality is not genuinely believable. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys heartfelt reads and happy endings.