Each year, instead of making a resolution, I set myself a word; a single word to guide me through the year and keep me on track to meeting my goals. For 2020, my word was transform. Yet it was not until the closing days of disasterous 2020 that I found a book that matched my word completely.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine tells the story of the titular Eleanor who, in her 30th year, is unknowingly on her own transformation journey. Up until this point in her life, she has worked in the same dull job. Eaten the same dull meal. Spent each weekend dulled under the same cloud of vodka. She wears the same clothes each day and has lived in the same apartment her whole adult life. She is insular and odd, and has no friends or social life. Her co-workers sneer at her and her weekly phone call with her hellaciously cruel mother is the only contact she has with anyone who is not a colleague. Her oddly formal way of speaking and her social ineptitude have kept the world at arms length. But she doesn’t need your help or pity, thank you very much. She is Completely Fine.
Her intentionally monotonous life all changes with one simple email to her employer’s IT help desk. Without knowing it, a computer glitch will open up the whole world to Eleanor, thanks to Raymond. Raymond quickly solves her technological issue but, through a series of seemingly ordinary moments, ends up helping to bring Eleanor to life. Though Raymond is central to her story, he is not a white knight. It is Eleanor herself who must begin the hard work of healing from her traumatic past and constricted life. She must left people in. There are Good Days, Bad Days and, eventually, Better Days.
I loved this book. The characters were sympathetic and realistic, the journey engaging, and the ending satisfying but not cloying. A perfect way to close out 2020… a year of transformation, indeed.
5 Refreshing Magner’s Drinks out of 5.