I completely had a different idea of what I was getting myself into. In fact, I think there needs to be a cover change for this book, because the current one gives off the vibe of a soft-natured/run-of-the-mill contemporary. What’s inside is most definitely not that. In fact, I had the bizarre idea in my head that this would be a romance, which I am now elated is not, but still. Needless to say, I struggled through the first portion of this book as I faced the reality of the novel and let go 0f the expectations I had prior to reading it.
If you didn’t know, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine follows our titular character as she goes about her day-to-day life. A lot of the events by themselves are quite mundane, but what makes the story stand out is the narration choice. The narrator has a plethora of odd opinions and interactions when confronted with “normal” scenarios. Admittedly, Eleanor’s perspective isn’t for everyone. However, her brash and unconventional nature is what allows the story to shine, because without it this would’ve just been a sob-story. Instead, it’s presented as a mere reality someone is grappling with.
Now make no mistake, Eleanor is socially awkward. It is not a cute New Girl type of quirkiness or aloof clumsiness. If you, like me, suffer from crippling second-hand embarrassment, this will be a difficult book to withstand. And I’m someone that does not “cringe” and laugh. When I cringe: I cringe. I mean, if something mildly embarrassing happens on T.V. or in a movie, I have to fast-forward or, if that’s not a possibility, shut my eyes and cover my ears like a child.
In fact, for the first third of this book I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. Even by the end I was pretty sure I would give this three stars at best. However, as time passed I was able to see the true impact this book had on me. The things it allowed me to question and realize about my own life. When a book is able to do that, I have to acknowledge it’s above an average rating.
One of the things I love most about this novel is the relationship between Eleanor and Raymond. Again, I have to stress this in case you’re going in with the same misconceptions as me: this is not a romance! Instead, it’s a good natured friendship, and it demonstrates the remarkable difference/impact a friend can have on someone’s life. Loneliness may not be the root of clinical depression, but it certainly doesn’t aid it.
Furthermore, I love the discussion on relationships, and how we can idealize them as a way to distract ourselves from our reality. It truly stuck a nerve with me, obviously not to the extent of Eleanor, but still the message resonated clear and profound.
However, I’ll admit there are certain things I find unnecessary. The two that come to mind are the Christmas party, I legitimately can’t comprehend the point of it seeing as we never got to see it, and the treatment of Eleanor’s family trauma as a mystery. To me it was quite clear what happened in her childhood, so I don’t understand this whole, “I don’t know the full extent of what occurred to me, and don’t wish to know” attitude Eleanor held. Especially since it seemed like she fully did know what happened?
Regardless, I thoroughly appreciate my journey with this novel. Albeit, it’s certainly the most words I’ve learned within one book, which might make me sound incredibly stupid, but hey I’m being honest! Anyways, I’m actually one of those readers that appreciates learning new words, so I didn’t find the jargon distracting by any means, but I thought I’d mention it anyhow. Overall, I highly recommend reading this if you’re looking for a fresh take on drama or a no-filer type main character.