“Eleanor Oliphant is (may be) Completely Fine” but I wasn’t after reading it, and you might not either after you complete it. Gail Honeyman wrote a book that makes everyone question their ignorance, air of indifference to other people around and our instincts when we see someone in trouble.
The story is about the 30 year old Eleanor who works at a Graphic design company. No, she isn’t a graphic designer or a creative artist over there, she handles the admin stuff – the less glamorous, the mundane. She keeps to herself and isn’t socially involved with her colleagues, leaving her to be often mocked by them. With her life planned out every day and living a pretty minimalistic lifestyle, human interaction is close to nil after work. Until one day while walking down the road with a colleague; Raymond – who happens to force himself upon her much to her dislike – they come across an old man who loses consciousness and both end up helping him.
“We entered, Raymond wiping his feet elaborately on the doormat. I copied him. It was truly an unforeseen day when I would look to Raymond for social guidance.”
With this incident we get to know much about Eleanor’s rather weird social habits that baffle others but seem right to her. Slowly she is invited to parties and teas, witnesses the love between parents and children, leading her to question what would it be like to have that. Throughout this ordeal Raymond stays by her side as a true friend (the first person in her life who actually cares) and when she hits rock bottom due to an alcohol overdose, Raymond brings her back to the surface, showing her what a normal life could be. After his insistence on seeing a therapist her unfortunate childhood is revealed with her mother the architect behind its destruction.
“You can’t protect other people, however hard you try. You try, and you fail, and your world collapses around you, burns down to ashes.”
Like when a curtain is being pulled back to reveal the first rays of sunshine, Eleanor finally finds acceptance and forgiveness for herself, living the best version of her life, one day at a time.
“I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else – there’s no big hole in my life, no missing partof my own particular puzzle. I am a self contained entity.”
The book deals with some very dark themes including loneliness, parental abuse, drug abuse, and mental illness in general. Going through the book I just wished to reach out to Eleanor and hug her tight, tell her “it’ll be alright and you’re not supposed to be fine! You should be amazing, your life amazing, and the world should tell you everywhere you go.”
However, it isn’t all dark and gloomy, for Eleanor makes you laugh as well, her humour may not be for everyone, but those with a big heart as Raymond or the old man they saved; make you realize that it just takes persistence and keen eyes to help those in need. Even if they don’t ask for it.
We’re surrounded by tons of people at home, at work, at school, at university, any and everywhere who have that dark cloud following them wherever they go. All they need is a push and maybe a smile, to help them find a silver lining. Lately, I’ve noticed how everyone love to talk about their messes and problems but rarely ever have the time to actually listen to the human lending their ears for their dilemmas. I’m not saying one shouldn’t listen or talk about their problems to people they trust, but check on which end do you stand? If you’re talking more, I guess it’s time you change sides and acknowledge the person who’s putting in the effort and emotional labour for you and ask after them. Do it, right now. Talk to your parents, siblings, friends, or even an acquaintance for 5 minutes and make the effort to know what’s going on.
Now, onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “People don’t like these facts, but I can’t help that. 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.”
- Reader level: The vocabulary used is pretty rich without a doubt, really admired the author for using words I didn’t even knew existed.
- Should you read: Please do.
- Would I read it again: Most definitely!