Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
BOOK: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Amazon)
CATEGORY: LITerary fiction
SUMMARY: Completely more than fine.
READ THIS BOOK IF: You want a fairly easy read that is darkly funny, gut-wrenchingly sad and ultimately inspiring.
^ Same, Eleanor.
Last night I ate honey mustard and onion pretzels for dinner and at one point wiped the yellow dust on my dog instead of on a napkin, but I, too, am doing fine. (And, okay, before anyone freaks out – my dog LOVES the yellow dust. Licking it off her fur provided like three hours of stimulating entertainment so you’re welcome, PETA.)
I loved this book for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it made me feel better about my own life, by like, a LOT. When I first started reading about Eleanor, she felt uncomfortably relatable — she refrains from small talk, takes great pleasure in affordable frozen pizzas and sometimes spends her evenings drinking vodka alone. I was like, damn, Eleanor seems like a woman who knows herself. Respect.
But then I was like – oh wait. I was more wrong about Eleanor being okay than my dog is about thinking I might give her an ACTUAL pretzel.
At the beginning, I thought the book would be about the modern loneliness of our society, with Eleanor as an allegory for how we’re all basically walking around in a cloud of crushing isolation, constantly scrolling through our smart phones and watching the Kardashians with our mouths gaping open. In other words, a Tuesday.
But as I kept reading, I realized Eleanor doesn’t even HAVE a smart phone, and doesn’t live in America, where chronic loneliness runs almost as rampant as childhood obesity. She lives in Scotland, where the social constructs around her are actually quite supportive (at one point in the book her boss gives her, like, two months of PAID leave time, and then says repeatedly, “You don’t have to come back if you’re not ready, Eleanor.”) She’s also given a completely furnished home to live in through adulthood, because she was relegated to the foster care system as a child. Basically, Scotland is super chill and Eleanor’s life is completely f*ed up on its own accord. And by its own accord, I mean, by her abusive “Mummy,” the book’s villain who is so evil, she’s almost unbelievable — who frequently tells her daughter things like “You know, you’re not very bright, dear” and informs her of how she will never find love. Damn. One time my mom told me yellow wasn’t my “very best color” and I cried for, like, two hours.
The point is, you shouldn’t read this book if you are expecting a lighthearted tale about a girl who just needs to “put herself out there more.” This. Is. Not. That. Book. Much like last night when I impulsively decided to get Taco Bell, this book takes a very dark and unexpected turn, but, just like my bowels – you will be fine. Utterly emptied, maybe. But completely fine.