What makes a book exceptionally good you ask? – An unforgettable character!
Meet Eleanor Oliphant, a 29-year-old woman who thinks she is completely fine. Except, she really isn’t. And to be honest, neither was I by the end of this remarkable book.
Facts about Eleanor:
Eleanor has a nine-to-five job that offers very little mental stimulation
Eleanor lives alone and has no friends.
Every Wednesday, Eleanor’s institutionalized mother calls her for a life update.
Every Friday night, Eleanor buys pizza and two bottles of vodka for the weekend.
People find Eleanor strange, but other people’s behaviour is strange to her.
Eleanor survived a traumatic experience at a very young age and has the scars to remind her of it everyday.
What makes this book so captivating is our quirky Eleanor. She was fine living in her perfectly scheduled, controlled and isolated life until she sets her eyes on someone she declares is her soul mate. This sets the path for a hilarious journey as she tries to integrate herself into society and it’s norms. You join her as she discovers the woes of waxing, makeup, shopping and more complex human interactions.
Mental illness is a big theme in this book, but it was presented in a way that I have never read before. The story was funny but also sad when you get to the root of Eleanor’s issues. Her good days will make you smile, but her bad days will make your heart ache. Her socially inept ways will make you laugh out loud, but the scorn she receives from others will break your heart. Her worst days are a glimpse of how darkness can consume a person and make them feel utterly alone.
While Eleanor steals the show, there are two secondary characters that leave a lasting impression.
– Raymond, an IT tech working in Eleanor’s office begins interacting with her. While at first Eleanor uses her time with Raymond as an exercise in social interactions, it does develop into an undeniable friendship. What I loved about their relationship is that it was not a love story like many would expect. She does not heal due to a new love in her life. Instead, she finds valuable support and uses her own strength to overcome issues she had swept under the rug for years following her trauma.
– Sammy is an elderly man who falls on the sidewalk and Eleanor and Raymond save him. This character is so colorful and full of life. The positivity he projects has an impact on Eleanor in ways she would have never imagined. The three of them become unlikely friends and help each other through their hardships.
This book completely surprised me. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and I was happy to learn that it will be made into a movie very soon. I cannot wait to see Eleanor Oliphant come to life on screen.
You will cheer for her.
You will cry for her.
You will want to give her a hug.
You will then remember that she is a fictional character.
You will then remember that there are many like her in this world.