I really can’t review books like this very well and my failure to do so has resulted me being nearly two months behind in my reviews, so it’s past time to just bang something out and apologize to Gail Honeyman for not giving it my best efforts.
Synopsis from Goodreads: “Eleanor Oliphant is a bit of an odd ball. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, sometime wearer of an eczema glove), means that Eleanor has become a bit of a loner – or ‘self-contained entity’ as she calls it. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life and phone chats with ‘Mummy’ (in prison for crimes unknown).
But everything changes when Eleanor falls for the local Hipster-band frontman, Johnnie Rivers. As Eleanor prepares herself for her inevitable union with the object of her desire (appropriate attire, new laptop for Instagram stalking), she inadvertently befriends the new guy from her office, Raymond.
As Eleanor navigates the waters of obsessive love and her long-distance relationship with ‘Mummy’, she realises she can only overcome the horrors of her past if she accepts a little help from Raymond…”
This was honestly a great book and it made me feel things, but as a “critical reviewer” I’m much better at dissecting tropes and broad-strokes themes than being introspective and deep. But here it is anyway: the thing that struck me immediately about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the way that it executed this dry, humorous tone on the surface but also carried this undercurrent of wrongness. And even saying that makes it sound like a “dark” book, and it’s really not — Eleanor is an unreliable narrator, and you know by listening to the words that she says that you’re going to learn things later that will probably make you sad, but she herself goes about her day with such a determined sense of optimistic pragmatism that you don’t really pity her or worry for her. Even though you suspect she’s probably *not* fine, at least not underneath, you always believe that she can and will be fine, once she just tackles the root of any issue. Until then, though, her “alien trying to be human” personality is worth at least one chuckle per page.
The balance of Eleanor’s resilience on top of something underneath made it really easy to read, because it had the tension of a mystery/thriller but none of the bleakness or horror. It made you want to keep reading, because Eleanor was so easy to spend time with and you wanted to badly for her to turn out all right, and to see her get there. Overall, recommended. And, there: review done!