By Ashley Lessa
Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart. -Penguin Random House Synopsis
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, published by Penguin Random House and written by Gail Honeyman, is a witty and thought-provoking read that explores the ups and downs of life with equal parts honesty and humor, sweetness, and suspense.
Eleanor does not seem to mind her perfectly ordinary life; thank you very much. Nearly 30 years old, she has worked in the same office since graduating from college and lived in the same little apartment. Eleanor enjoys her crosswords, her frozen pizza, and of course, her nightly vodka. She calls her mother once per week (not that the calls are enjoyable). She really is okay.
However, Eleanor has a bit of trouble blending in. She is unaware of social queues and catches people off guard with her candor. She has no friends. That is until Raymond, the slightly dorky but sweet IT worker, comes along. When they happen along Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen in the road, the two come together to save him, and later befriend both him and his family.
For the first time, Eleanor finds herself surrounded by kind and supportive people, especially Raymond. As the darkness of Eleanor’s past slowly reveals itself and threatens to overtake her, it is her friendship with Raymond that sustains her. Raymond is her cheerleader, encouraging her to take care of her mental health, helping her believe in a future with more possibilities than she has ever imagined.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a read that warms the reader’s heart and breaks it over and over with wit and honesty. The novel is simple, but this allows it to shine; because an overly complicated plot does not burden it, it can zero in on the characters’ development, shifting from darker themes to humorous moments and back again, exploring a breadth of human emotion without leaving the reader with the weight.
Honeyman’s characters drive the story, each a bit fanciful but still relatable, each experiencing love, loss, and loneliness in turn. The novel is smart and engaging, soul-filling, and darkly, dryly funny.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the perfect novel for those who need a good cry and a dose of faith in humanity. (★★★★★)
TW: depression, violence, abuse, suicide, substance abuse