Eleanor Oliphant is a twenty-nine year old woman who struggles with appropriate social skills. She is awkward and weird and says exactly what she’s thinking without any filter. She lives by a routine of going to work and being at home alone. She lives an isolated life, avoiding any human contact on most days. Her weekends involve pizza and vodka and phone calls with her Mummy.
This all changes when she meets Raymund, an IT guy from her office. Raymund befriends Eleanor and together they save an elderly gentleman named Sammy. Ultimately, Raymund’s kind heart and friendship saves Eleanor and helps her break out of her shell and leads her towards acceptance and healing.
“Sometimes you simply needed someone kind to sit with you while you dealt with things.”
Pub Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (US), HarperCollins (UK)
Number of Pages: 336 (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction, Humour, Contemporary, Mental Health
Add To Shelf: GOODREADS
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a mix of tragedy and humour. It is a story about loneliness, acceptance, healing, and friendships. And while Eleanor Oliphant isn’t completely fine, she eventually will find her way with the help of her new-found friend, Raymund.
“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”
Eleanor Oliphant reminds me a lot of Ove from A Man Called Ove. Both books depict a main character who is suffering depression. They are both quirky, socially awkward, and have a lot to say about everything. Like Ove, Eleanor struggles with her interactions with people and fitting in the societal norm. And similar to Ove, Eleanor eventually breaks out of her shell and finds her path out of the darkness.
Eleanor is such a complex character and throughout the book, the author reveals some bits and pieces of Eleanor’s past that explains why she is the way she is now. Eleanor had a traumatic childhood with an abusive mother. She grew up bouncing from different foster care homes and still gets regular visits from the social worker.
We see Eleanor have regular phone calls with her mother, whom she refers to as Mummy. The conversations are always so disturbing and cruel. Her mother actively berates her and makes her feel worthless. I felt so gutted for Eleanor. In my opinion, the most damaging thing to a person is having a mother who makes you feel unwanted. The words are so piercing that she internalizes everything her mother says to her. It was clear that Eleanor’s mother is the reason for her depression and her alcoholism. With the help of her therapist and her friend, Raymund, she confronts her painful reality and learns to let go of her Mummy. And as soon as she does this is when she truly begins her journey towards acceptance and healing.
“In the end, what matters is this: I survived.”
This was a very heartwarming and sad book, but I really enjoyed reading this. Kudos to the author for an amazing debut.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
If you like this book, then definitely read A Man Called Ove. As I mentioned in my review, both books highlight a main character with similar qualities. Read my review HERE.