Joy's Book Blog
Joy's Book Blog
I’ve been hearing about Eleanor Oliphant for years – mostly people ask if I’ve read it, and then change the subject when I say “no.” Now that I have, I’m wondering how the conversation would have played out.
Because it’s so popular, I expected this to be a fantastic book. I thought Eleanor would become one of my new favorite characters, and I fully expected to go on an “author kick” and read everything ever written by Gail Honeyman. Instead, the opposite is true. I’m not sure if I like Eleanor; in fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t. And I know I didn’t like this book. Don’t get me wrong, Eleanor had it rough growing up. An abusive mother, a childhood filled with foster families, a growing addiction to vodka; all these things don’t make for an easy life. Plus (and I admit I got this from Goodreads), many readers feel Eleanor is on the autism spectrum. Going in, I was excited to read a book with an openly autistic main character.
Only she wasn’t. Or may not have been. You never know! The author never talks about autism, just describes her as “quirky.” And I like quirky characters normally, but I didn’t like Eleanor. I think that’s because by the end, the reader is expected to see real growth in her, and I just didn’t. What I really saw was a man so desperate for love himself that he would overlook all her red flags and attach himself to Eleanor, hoping more change is on the way. And maybe it is. She’s in counseling, she’s attempted to break off her unhealthy relationship with her mother, and she’s made some friends. But if I wanted to read about a “quirky” main character who experiences real growth, I would stick with A Man Called Ove. I’ve also heard good things about Olive Kitteridge, so will read that soon. But not Eleanor. I wouldn’t recommend Eleanor (although I seem to be in the minority).