eleanor oliphant is completely fine – gail honeyman

Rating: 2.5/5

I finished this book in February and have just been procrastinating with writing the book review because I didn’t know what to say about it. Before I picked it up, I’ve heard a lot of terrific reviews about this book, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I didn’t resonate with Eleanor as so many other people have, and I only liked her in a few specific moments.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine follows a thirty-year-old woman, Eleanor, as she goes to a mundane job, drinks vodka on weekends, and calls her psychotic mother every week. As one can guess from the title, Eleanor Oliphant is probably far from fine, and a few pages into the book and into Eleanor’s mind told me nearly all I needed to know: loner who doesn’t admit she’s lonely, traumatic childhood, love interest that at first she doesn’t really see as a love interest but will eventually. A few chapters in I thought, God, I hope the mom didn’t set fire to their house. Turns out Mummy did.

Don’t get me wrong, I would usually die for loners and outcasts like Eleanor; they’re some of the most interesting people. But with Eleanor, everything felt cliched; the scar across her face, the strange, strange things she say, even her interactions with Mummy, and nothing turns me off more like cliches (except horrible writing).

There were a lot of redeemable parts and even a scene that made me tear up. Occasional outbursts of comedic/awkward scenes with Eleanor did make me chuckle. Raymond – the love interest – I really liked as a character. Him and his mother exemplified what it means to be a good person, and I have to admit Eleanor and him are somewhat perfect together. The part I teared up at, surprisingly, was the part when Eleanor talks about responsibility towards her cat. No tears for when Eleanor figured out her traumatic past. No tears for when she was lying waiting to die on her kitchen floor. Nope. I cried when she talks about her cat. I know I had some kind of reason for tearing up at that specific moment and I remember having a reason, but because I read this in February and am only now starting on the review, I don’t remember why.

If there is one thing I can pin down, it is that the story felt like it dragged on forever. Now I know that it’s because the book is mainly character-driven, but there were a few times where I thought the book could’ve ended, and it didn’t. I enjoyed this ending as is, but it dragged on for so long, I was in a rather bad mood when I finished (oops).

Overall, I would still recommend the book even though I didn’t like it; I know it has impacted a lot of other people and I do see and agree with the messages and the values it promotes. I was probably in a mood when I read it, and maybe in the future I’ll read it again.

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