Eleanor, I said to myself, sometimes you’re too quick to judge people. There are all kinds of reasons why they might not look like the kind of person you’d want to sit next to on a bus, but you can’t sum someone up in a ten-second glance. That’s simply not enough time.Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, is a 383 pages long debut novel of Scottish writer, Gail Honeyman. The book has won the 2017 Costa First Novel Award. It also won the “Début Book of the Year” and “Overall Winner” awards (the latter was chosen by public vote), and the “Marketing Strategy of the Year” award, in the British Book Awards for 2018. In May 2017, the film rights were optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine. No guesses on this one, it is also a pick of Reese’s book club.
It is highly praised by critics and deals with themes of loneliness, prejudice, trauma recovery, small acts of kindness, and friendship. It tells the story of 29-year-old Eleanor, who is a social misfit and her transformation journey towards an understanding of self and life. It is an intense emotional rollercoaster ride, and the author has done a great job of exploring various mental health elements.
Eleanor is portrayed to be comfortable with her solitude and finds it liberating. However, as she slowly gets exposed to social interactions and having friends, the author does a fantastic job of unraveling how those interactions affect Eleanor. Humans are said to be social animals, and there are no reservations about the fact that loneliness is detrimental to mental health. My favorite quote from the book is, “Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that there’s something very liberating about it…”. And as we take a moment for this sentence to penetrate, the deeper question that arises is, what is the ideal balance between solitude and social interactions? In today’s world, it is essential to be as happy in one’s company as we would be in the company of others.
Trauma recovery is a long path, and difficult for those that walk it. As we accompany Eleanor on her journey, we realize that rarely is life to be taken at face value. Sometimes, people need to be coaxed out of their shells, and sometimes, that is the only thing that saves them. The author has done a magnificent job of describing Eleanor’s initial clumsy attempts at social interactions, and her transformation as she truly starts to enjoy them.
The book is well-written, and it is visible that the author has taken immense efforts in creating and developing the characters. The book is filled with learnings and explores sensitive topics in a very heartfelt and natural way. The book stresses the importance of reaching out to friends, being there for them, and accepting help.
I give this book 5/5 stars. The author has not only managed to make me relate to the characters, but she has also made me resonate with every emotion that Eleanor goes through. The book has its light and funny moments without ever losing its focus on mental health. It is a great read and a strong recommendation for anyone who believes that friends and family make life tolerable.
To buy the book, the link is https://amzn.to/2CmxiGt