Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

4 out of 5 stars

What a weird, off-kilter, and absolutely lovey book. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is a sad picture when we meet: socially incapable, rigidly routine, alcoholic. She’s desperately lonely and desperate to be left alone. Over the course of her story, that changes.

She has a crush. She makes a friend, then another. She struggles against the world then realizes it’s not fighting back, that she can stop. She seeks badly needed help for a series of traumatic incidents. That history is revealed slowly throughout the book, deliberately opposite of Eleanor’s own statement that she likes to be given all the facts of a story up front, so as the form her own response.

As the reader, my response to both Eleanor and her past took time; until the last few pages, in fact. And what began as the almost maddening inner monologue of a misanthrope who was clearly not even trying, became the odd and lovely, very late coming-of-age of a truly sympathetic and relatable character. Eleanor is at once delusional and incredibly self-aware. Her ability to see truth in a situation, even when it means she was wrong, offers hope to the reader throughout Eleanor’s transformation. We know she’ll make it before Eleanor does, and before we truly understand what she has to overcome.

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