February 2019 Book Pick
Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine: A Novel
by Gail Honeyman
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
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My (Karie’s) Thoughts on Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine:
Where to start? There are so many points that should be covered in the discussion of this book. So let’s start with Eleanor. Well, I actually think almost every question that could be discussed probably includes Eleanor in some way. Let me just start from the beginning.
My first initial thought of Eleanor, honestly, was that she might have been on the spectrum for Autism. Having a nephew on the spectrum, I recognized a few similar traits. However, I believe I was wrong. The reason being that at the end of the book and learning everything about Eleanor- being socially non-immediately conforming is not a reason to believe that someone is on the spectrum. I actually was feeling quite mad at myself. See, for those that do not know me, I have a tendency to be a very up front, non-sugar coating, truth bomb type of person. I have always figured that if someone asks my opinion then I will give it. None of that “I love you but” bullcrap. COME ON…. the BUT cancels out the I love you part. Before I go off on some other thought tread lets continue, Just because Eleanor is up front with formalities and within the way she shares information shouldn’t have placed a label on her. I actually really love that about her character. Her straight forwardness, her attention to details and her bewilderment at the details that some choose to focus.
That brings me to my next point. The co-workers. I find it amusing that the co-workers (Raymond excluded) pretty much ignore and mock her…. until she starts adhering to the “Social Norms” i.e. wearing makeup, having newer/nicer clothes, hair done…. all the stereotypical woman magazine “Make Him Notice You” crap. I get it; I really do. We, as women, want to feel pretty. We fall into those traps. And what baffles me; is even though we will bitch and complain about it all, when someone doesn’t follow those “Rules” or “Social Norms” then some women will treat that person differently. Why? In today’s society it still baffles me that people, who aren’t the “Social norm”, must adjust their behavior to be liked or to make those around them comfortable. And this is only a 1 way road. Me, being me, I have never had someone change their conversation from some gossip to world news to make me feel included. I have been told to “be softer” or to “Say it nicer”. So why is it that it is expected for some to curve their personality and not others? If one is willing to bend- then others should as well.
On the flip side of this conversation- Because Eleanor decided to under go changes (Although it was for the “Project” i.e. a man) I wonder if she was ready for a change. After everything that happened to her and how long she has been harboring the details- I wonder if a part of her just wanted to rip out of her current shell and put on a new one- like a growing crab running out of space and finally reaches a point where it needs a new, bigger and brighter shell. I wonder if that is where the sudden onset of needing to change, to “fit the life style of what the musician would expect”, comes from. I think she might have needed a reason, to justify growing from the person who she was to who she wants to be.
Next discussion point: Mummy. This will be my last discussion point for a while. I am still making notes on a couple of things and actually I am excited for the Dine & Opine Discussion on this book. Many people are lucky enough to not have experienced anything traumatic. Unfortunately, there are those that have. How one deals with the events is different for each person. How I dealt worked for me… might not work for someone else. However, I think that a person, who has lived through something horrible, can understand why someone else might be dealing with their event in a certain way. Which is why I can kind of understand Eleanor and Mummy. Here are my thoughts:
Eleanor feels like she failed. No. Not just feel, in her eyes she did fail. She tried hard to be the perfect daughter, to make her mummy proud. Because I think she felt that if she could just make her mummy proud then all would be better. Mummy would be happy. When the fire happened and she learns that mummy set the fire on purpose- I think it broke her. Here she was trying, trying so hard to make everything right, trying to make her mummy happy and her mummy killed her sister and Eleanor was suppose to die- but survived. The guilt of not being able to save her sister, to live up to the crazy standards of mummy- standards that would never have been met, she blames herself. With the blame she keeps mummy in her head because she is scared to move forward. I think she was afraid to move on until the “Project”. I think her “project” was a way of breaking free and stepping out of her mummy’s shadow.