I recently re-read this book for a book club and it was just as good the second time around. It’s one of those titles I always end up recommending when talking about books.
Meet Eleanor. She goes to work, buys groceries, she dislikes her co-workers, but enjoys doing crossword puzzles and reading. And every Friday she buys a margarita pizza and lots of vodka. Because that’s what it takes to get through the weekend. This novel brings up several hard issues, substance abuse, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, suicide and depression, but at the heart of it, it’s about being alone. How isolation is only ever a band aid, and not a very good one.
One of my favorite things about this novel is the main character’s inner dialog. For how heavy the subject matter can be, I laughed a lot while reading this book. Eleanor’s inner voice is blunt, quirky, and deeply endearing.
The main character is completely flawed, but not in the normal fictional ways that I read so often. She’s not secretly drop dead gorgeous behind her glasses, or charmingly clumsy. She’s painfully average in almost every way. Except her scars. Those that are on the outside and on the inside distinguish her. The first time I read this book I found her so painfully awkward I wondered if I could keep reading. I did, and I was not disappointed.
I also appreciate that this book doesn’t have the traditional “happily ever after” ending, but a realistic one. All of Eleanor’s problems don’t magically vanish. I think it’s much more important to see how she’s grown, and the baby-steps she’s taken to live a happier, healthier life.
Give this book a try.
Gail Honeyman. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: A Novel. Pamela Dorman Books. 2017