Ello ello, here we go with my first book review and I thought I’d start with a bang… Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine!! I normally boycott overhyped books because by the time I go to read them I feel like I’m already over it after seeing it absolutely everywhere. I couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw this cover exclusive to Dymocks, it was just too gorgeous to leave sitting on the shelf. I’m so happy I did decide to read it as it was so different to any other books I’ve read and it left me feeling hopeful about issues such as mental illness, recovery and building strong relationships.
If you’re sensitive to any of these topics please be aware that they do come up in the book, however it was never overdone for the sake of dramatics:
Suicide, abuse, death, mental illness (including depression, anxiety and PTSD), alcohol abuse and suicide related drug abuse.
Part 1 ~ Spoiler Free
Let me start with my overall rating of this book, I gave it a 4 out of 5, the overall story I loved and seeing Eleanor’s growth throughout the book was realistic and wonderfully done however I did find the pacing to be quite slow at times and I almost put it down after 150 pages, I’m so glad I didn’t but the pacing did feel a but slow to me and it only picked up for me personally after the half way mark. I’m glad I did finish the book as I really started to connect with Eleanor and her story in the second half of the book and was so impressed with the representation of mental illness!!
The book was split up into three parts which all had a different overall tone to them, this made the book quite interesting rather than just having the chapters flow throughout the entirety of the book. This also incorporated perfectly into the topic of mental health as those suffering won’t be the same constantly, sometimes they will feel like things are getting better and those around them do too but then all of a sudden it comes crashing down again and that’s normal so I loved how this was highlighted by the three different sections of the book.
Some of the characters lacked depth but as the book is written from Eleanor’s perspective this only adds to her overall character, it shows that she doesn’t invest time to find the deeper aspect of people leaving them to be one-dimensional for her and thus one-dimensional to us. This was effective as it give us as the reader a greater insight into what it must be for Eleanor, living life as though no one around her is of much importance. The main characters including Eleanor and Raymond had a lot of depth and life in them that still makes me feel as though they were real people and I was able to witness their lives unfold right along side them. The other characters all started to develop as Eleanor was opening herself up more which I thought was again a great insight into her mind.
If you’re looking for a book with an accurate portrayal of mental illness you’ve hit the jackpot. The mental illness aspect is what made me keep reading. What I loved most about this was the fact that it was shown rather than told! Mental illness isn’t something that only affects one aspect of your life and it can’t simply be fixed by a knight on shining armour and this book captured that way of thinking brilliantly. Eleanor wasn’t there simply to be a character to house a bunch of mental illness for the sake of it, she was a person who happened to suffer from mental illness and we got to see her battle with her mind while still seeing her as a person which I absolutely loved.
I would 100% recommend reading this book, regardless of whether you suffer from mental illness or not you will be able to learn so much from this book.
Part 2 ~ Spoilers Galore
While I did love the book as I said before I found the beginning a bit slow. The lengthy descriptions of Eleanor going shopping for an outfit, getting her hair done, getting her nails done were effective at establishing her character & mannerisms, however I was getting to a point where I just wasn’t really connecting with her as a character. I’m definitely more inclined to want to continue reading a book if I feel a connection to the characters as I want to see them do whatever the plot happens to take them. Not being overly connected to Eleanor made reading her go on and on about how she can do her nails herself was starting to make me almost resent her for a while. This however did get a lot better after the first 30% or so of the book and I began to really develop a strong connection to her.
I’m not a very patient person so I found it extremely hard to keep waiting to find out more about what Eleanor had gone through, this links back to the long chapters about Eleanor doing mundane tasks, I’d sit through and read them hoping for some more insight into her past only for it to be less than 2 pages at the end of her mum being outright horrible to her. While it did give me the insight I wanted it was so short sometimes and I then had to read more of her being at work or going to visit Sammy in hospital before finding out anymore. I know why this was done and the parts of the story in-between the glimpses of her past were crucial in their own way I just wish we got a little more throughout the book.
I found her obsession with the singer to be very entertaining, she was being very risky when she went up to his apartment door and I was on the edge of my seat thinking she was going to be found out, and then she wasn’t and she returned home. It was like waiting for something to happen that never did. It’s so hard for me to say all these things as I know it was all done for a reason I’m just not 100% sure how I feel about it. I did find her journey of obsession turning into her slowly becoming more of her own person through the support of Raymond to be a really wonderful aspect of the story.
That was the good days and then comes the bad days section. This section hooked me the whole way through, I wanted so badly for Eleanor to keep fighting and receive the help she so obviously needed and deserved. Her inability to cope aligned with accurate symptoms of depression which she was later diagnosed with and my heart hurt for her.
Seeing her struggle with her alcohol issues and her attempted suicide was so awful to read but so well done!! It wasn’t glamorised, there was no “single tear rolling down her rosy cheek” or “she was beautifully sad” none of that complete bullsh*t that makes mental illness and suicide look like this beautiful thing because straight out it isn’t. She hadn’t showered, she hadn’t left the house, she wasn’t crying a river she was numb which is so often not talked about and while it was painful to read it was so important that it was written this way. It showed the dark reality of those who suffer with suicidal thoughts and mental illness, not the pretty version a lot of movies and books show.
Lets chat about Mummy then, I completely hated her, she was vile and I spent the whole book wishing Eleanor would snap back and give her a piece of her mind until the end of the book where we find out the Mummy was in Eleanor’s mind all along. I don’t know how I feel about this plot twist, it was shocking as I didn’t expect it at all however was it necessary..? I’m not sure. I think it was effective at showing the symptoms of PTSD and how much Eleanor struggled to move on from the trauma that her mother put her through so in that respect I did think it was really well done, it just seemed a bit rushed at the end. Keep in mind I read the majority of this book in one sitting so my thoughts are a little blurry, personally I enjoyed the plot twist but I can see why some people had an issue with it.
The ending was realistic, she didn’t live happily ever after, she didn’t end up with prince charming and she wasn’t all better. She was however working towards bettering herself mentally and emotionally which was so lovely to see. It didn’t portray mental health as a dark never-ending cycle but it also wasn’t showing that “oh look at that she talked about it and now its all better”, healing takes time and it’s not a linear process so the ending was hopeful to other struggling without being out of reach from reality.
So that’s my excessively long review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, to sum this book up in one sentence
Eleanor Oliphant is completely NOT fine but she’s working on getting there.
I loved it, I cried and I felt a connection to Eleanor and would 100% recommend this book to everyone, it would be the perfect book for high school students to read and discuss to start an accurate discussion of what mental health is and how to cope with it.
Thanks for sticking through to the end if you’re still reading and I’m sending you all my love.
If you’re struggling with your mental health and/or thoughts of suicide please reach out, there is always hope and your life is worth living.