Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is one of those books that have been on my TBR for a long time and when Evalinah and Simant asked me for a buddy read I just jumped at the chance. So shall we get on with it?
Plot Summary of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is a twenty nine year old blunt and has not mastered the social etiquette yet. She has been living alone for a long time and barely speaks to people. She has had a difficult relationship with her mother, her only relative always but now she sees a light in the form of a guy, a musician apparently.
She has it all planned. All she had to meet him, he will realize she is the one for him, they will fall in love and a happily ever after was destined. But she was not ready to bump into Raymond, a office coworker nor meeting his mother.
What happened in her past that affected her so much? How did Raymond’s presence alter her path? You will have to read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine to know more.
Book review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
I am nowhere like Eleanor in real life but somehow I could relate to her thoughts. And that is where the author shines. She has written a character who is full of flaws and is annoying, unlikable, yet believable and relatable.
Things that worked for me
I think the strength of the book was its well developed characters.
I liked how the tension and suspense about Eleanor’s past was maintained till the end.
There are lots of funny moments that had me chuckling loud in the public.
Things that didn’t work for me
The plot is character driven so if you are waiting for that plot twist, it isn’t coming.
As part of our buddy-reading, Evalinah, Simant and I exchanged some questions for each of us to answer. You can hop to their blogs and check out their answers.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine has some bigger than life concepts and ideas. What’s the biggest lesson you took away from it? Has it affected how you view things in life at least a little bit?
I loved how Eleanor was a go-getter and was never afraid to push her limits. Be it the makeover or the bikini wax, she was ready to try them because she needed to. She is a strong woman not because of her circumstances but despite them.
Since Eleanor is a very unreliable narrator, the first things we hear about Raymond are somewhat repulsive because she sees him very negatively at first. But then we indirectly learn that he basically has a heart of gold. What was your “reader’s journey” in regards to Raymond? Did you start seeing him as a “book boyfriend” eventually, or..?
Raymond reminded me of Roy from the IT crowd, right from the beginning. I loved how he wasn’t portrayed as just another guy and we all fell in love with him directly.
What did you think of the writing style? Namely, the way we were always given Eleanor’s sometimes ridiculous opinions first, and only then learned the truth indirectly through actual events? What do you think this gave to the story, especially when it comes to how we see Eleanor and her changes?
I remember us updating each other (while reading) about the mystery about the ‘past’. She had us hooked right where we wanted and even though we were able to kinda predict we stuck through it to see how it panned out. And I think that is where the author won as a writer.
Eleanor is an unlikable character in the beginning. It’s not that we generally meet such people in daily life. She is one of the oddest characters I’ve ever read. But as the story progresses, we start connecting with her and understanding her better.
Why do you think it is so? Why we felt connected to her though we don’t relate to her on so many levels? Or if you do resemble her in some way, share your experience may be?
I think at some level we all relate to her because she says aloud things that we all think. I think those rough edges helped Eleanor win us over.
Throughout the book, there is a mystery about Eleanor’s mother. Off course, in the end, the mystery is resolved. Do you think this twist was necessary for the overall growth of the story? The ending we expected for Eleanor arrives eventually, so don’t you think this mystery angle was tiresome to stretch out till the very end?
I kinda guessed what it have been (more or less) but I think without that mystery I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book as much.
It made us (the reader) keep thinking about it even though Eleanor was not ready to deal with it yet. I Like I said before, this book is not about the plot twist, it is more about the characters.
This novel is a mix of humour and a darker plot. There were some thought-provoking sections, like Eleanor’s relationship with money. She was always highly conscious about how much she spends and is not willing to pay for social occasions etc. But since she had no one else to take care, I think it made sense that she was keen on safeguarding her personal finances.
What do you think about this? Also, do you think Raymond’s introduction in her life changed her views on lots of things?
I think Raymond opened up Eleanor to a whole lot of things and emotions that she didn’t understand earlier. She obviously didn’t have a normal childhood nor adult life, and she definitely needed someone to guide her through these social etiquette.
As someone who avoids series, I rarely say this but I wish there was a sequel coming up to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I have not got enough of Eleanor Oliphant.
I rarely read the blurb of the book and just jump into a book when I get them, Well, it has been both good and bad for me. I did the same with Eliza and Her Monsters, after reading so many positive spoiler free reviews about it.
I needed to read something easy and light hearted after reading a serious classic like The Picture of Dorian Gray. How did that turn out for me? You will have to read ahead to know.
Eliza is the creator of the popular online comic, Monstrous Sea which has a tremendous fan following. She goes by the LadyConstellation and is frankly a virtual super star. In real life, she is quiet, shy, and avoids people as much as possible. Her family doesn’t understand her or her online business but let her be to an extent.
She suffers from anxiety attacks and has no friends in school, where she usually spends her time drawing for her comic. She has two online friends who help her navigate through life and family issues. She feels safer online and prefers to keep the real and virtual life separate.
When Wallace, a famous fan fiction writer of her Monstrous Sea, joins her school her worlds collide. Eliza being Eliza, misses all her chances to come out clean to him about who she is.
But is it now too late now to tell him? What would it take for him forgive her when he finally realizes the truth? Did she overcome her personal fears and monsters at the end? Read the Eliza and Her Monsters to know more.
My initial thoughts
Well, it was definitely not what I expected at all. But don’t worry you freaks, I meant in a good way. I suppose. Well I will try and explain better. I thought the book Eliza and her monsters was about her own inner monsters, like her mental illness. I was not happy to find it was not about her anxiety but about her comic.
And then I realized it was indeed about her mental illness. So I guess it was a roller coaster ride. Just what I wanted. So I am happy again I guess.
Another thing that stood out for me was the portrayal of online friends. Like any of you, I have and love all my online friends and I probably will share my dark deep secrets with them before I would with my family and friends. You all get that right? Finally there is a book that puts across that it was okay to do that and not all virtual friends were creeps and tricksters.
Things that worked for me
YES to showing how online friendships that can be real and time zones can be pain in the butt.
I loved how well the pressure and her desperation to finish the story were depicted.
The Eliza-Wallace friendship turned to relationship was realistic and the growth arc was spot on.
If you hate the ‘Love conquers all’ trope, you will love the ending.
Things that didn’t work for me
While the stories within story worked for so many of my friends, it failed to impress me. It maybe due to the fact that I don’t read fantasy books.
If you are looking for a book that deals with mental illness or about online community with a bit of romance, Eliza and Her Monsters might be your pick. If you love books like Fangirl and Radio Silence, do not even think twice, you will completely adore Eliza and Her Monsters.
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Do you read fan fiction and what are your favorites? I am definitely in the mood to read a few after reading this book. Let us chat.
Radio Silence is one of my top picks from the books I read in 2019. Every one of my friends who have read this already is in love with this book. And every blog that talks about this one raves about it.
Did I tell I am already looking forward to reading more from this author? Aren’t you interested to know why is Radio Silence so fabulous? Read ahead.
Frances Janvier is the boring, nerdy school head girl, at least to her class mates. She is a topper and so obsessed with getting into Cambridge that she gets panic attacks over just thinking about not going there. She is a typical high strung, anxious, perfectionist millennial teen who is trying to do the correct things to achieve her goals.
Unbeknownst to her schoolmates, she is a fantastic artist who is absolutely besotted with a Youtube podcast Univserse City and podcaster’s voice. She draws fan arts for the show which is quite popular among the fanworld. Her two worlds collide when she meets her class nemesis Daniel’s best friend Aled Last, who as she gets to know later is the mind behind Universe City.
Aled Last is a shy neighbor to Frances and his sister used to be friends with Frances until a while ago. When he finds out about her fan art, he asks Frances to collaborate with him on his show. How they help each other to learn to love themselves and find a family of their own forms the rest of the story.
(Do not get fooled by this plot. I am trying to be as mysterious and spoiler free as I can get to make you pick Radio Silence.)
My initial thoughts
I think I made my feelings about the book very clear when I started the review. I loved the diverse representation and that there wasn’t a forced romance. And more than everything, I loved the character arcs and how strongly they were developed.
The theme of mysterious history of Frances and Carys and the mysterious present between Daniel and Aled’s friendship kept me hooked. Read my #bookreview of #RadioSilence
The theme of mysterious history of Frances and Carys and the mysterious present between Daniel and Aled’s friendship kept me hooked. While the writing quintessentially represents a millennial teenager’s POV, it was not angst-y and irksome, even when it was bit longer.
Things that worked for me
Every character is fully developed and has a strong storyline.
Great use of diverse representation, which didn’t feel forced or eclipsing the main plot.
It talks about the pressure about higher education, which was so relatable to me.
There is no romance and a lot of friendship.
Things that didn’t work for me
It felt a longer than it needs to be.
I liked Aled and Daniel’s part of the story more than Frances. I know it is not a negative thing. Still she is the narrator but I didn’t care for her as much. Maybe.
Just go pick a copy of this one already please, while I am hunting for Alice Oseman’s other books.
Let us chat
Have you read Radio Silence? Do you ever feel the diverse representation being forced in books, especially in YA? Let us talk.
It has been a while since a book made me laugh, cry and then root for the characters so hard that you forget they are fictitious. But then, if we get that book every time I read it won’t as special right? So A Quiet Kind of Thunder will be one of those special books.
Steffi has been a selective mute since her childhood. But when her parents assume she may not be able to pursue her studies in a University, she decides things has to change. With her best friend, Tem moving off to another school she realizes she has to do this alone.
Or so she thought.
Rhys is deaf and entirely relies on the sign language to communicate. Since Steffi knows a bit of British Sign Language (BSL) she is introduced to him to help him out. She is mute and he is deaf and her rusty BSL is all they have to communicate and it also means they have an entire language just for them, more or less.
But when her parents decide college would be too much for her, she rebels and she rebels with Rhys. You need to read A Quiet Kind of Thunder to know how that goes.
Book review of A Quiet Kind of Thunder
As I might have already mentioned I loved A Quiet Kind of Thunder.
The romance didn’t make me roll eyes. Yes there were cutesy moments but they fit so perfectly into the story. Even when they do the typical teenage-y things it worked.
But again, they were typical teenagers who had physical disabilities and that is a point that A Quiet Kind of Thunder never failed to remind us. They can’t be much different from the other teens, can they? Well almost. And that is where the author and her research shine through.
What worked for me
A Quiet Kind of Thunder has a great diverse representation with people of color, mental illness and physical disabilities, and none of them felt forced.
Not everything is pink. There are people who do not understand them, there are ones who behave around them like they walk on egg shells. But I loved how real that made the story.
Of late I have been ranting a lot about how much I dislike the ‘love solves everything’ trope. And I am happy to say this one defies that.
There are some books that we read because someone recommended them to you. Or maybe because you read about them somewhere or you found them read by someone you know. And there are some that you pick out of curiosity. Many times they end up making you feel sorry for that moment of impulsiveness. But there are those rare occasions that the book that you picked out yourself, that you had never heard of earlier, might just be the one book that you needed then. It might turn out to be the one that you would revisit once in a while. You know what, it might be the one reason that you have not stopped picking random books, without hoping much from them.
This favorite book of mine to revisit time and again was found out of nowhere. I confess it is the name of the book that reeled me in. By now you might have guessed that the mere word ‘suicides‘ compelled me to read it. Well, there is not just one suicide, but five. What could stop me from devouring it, right? Well, it was not just what I expected at all, I should say that.
Book Name: The Virgin Suicides
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Genre: Fiction – YA, Classic
Characters: Cecilia, Lux, Mary, Bonnie and Therese Lisbon
Setting: Michigan, The USA, 1970
The Virgin Suicides could easily have been the story of five sisters Cecilia (13), Lux (14), Bonnie (15), Mary (16) and Therese (17) who succumbed to suicide. Yes, it spoke of possible depression, failure at a suicidal attempt, pretense at normality and everything that I have come to love about the genre. But it has more than just that.
The story talks about the fascination of the neighborhood boys, now adults, about the secluded and cloistered Lisbon sisters, who committed suicide all in the same year. For all the flaws of the sisters, the boys consider them perfect and worship them through their memory. They try to figure why they did what they did and how their deaths affected them and the entire neighborhood, even after so many years. Though the reason for their deaths remains unknown, the ghosts of the sisters haunt the boys as they rot with guilt that they remained mute voyeurs through their painful existence.
They go through their collected memorabilia and recollect faint memories of their teenage crushes, to relive those golden years. They seek out insights and experiences from other boys, teachers and their other neighbors to understand their childhood Goddesses’ lives under their strict mother and submissive father. The boys’ attempt to resolve the mystery seem to be the only thing that holds them together anymore. But as time passes, just like their ‘exhibits,’ their memory start to fail them, and the fact that they have to concentrate harder to invoke their nostalgia devastates them more than the suicides themselves.
The Virgin Suicides is not just about the girls or their suicides. It is more about the boys and their reminiscence of their adolescent infatuation and lust for their young neighbors. I felt that I was one among the boys, even though they are well into their middle ages in the story now – and my feelings towards the boys felt undiluted even during my second and third reads of the book. Their voyeuristic adventures from a tree house or the telephone conversations they had with the girls by playing songs or even the fateful school dance they had accompanied the girls to, may have been part of any coming of age novel, but for the melancholy tone that hangs as the reminder the imminent deaths.
I cannot say enough that I loved the writing, especially the unique protagonists. It is one of those books that the story doesn’t matter, as much as the prose. The prose oozes out with pensiveness and poignancy that would stick on to you much longer after you finish reading. The author makes the best use of metaphors and detailed descriptions to paint a vivid picture of the lovesick boys or the fate of the dying town. The Virgin Suicides talks about the loss of the lives of the Lisbon girls, by not talking about them at all. It tells what happens to us after the great loss, after the momentous despair – an abominable lull in whatever life that remains thereafter.
The Virgin Suicides is a must-read for anyone who reads for the love of the language and is not afraid to reach out for the dictionary when things get tough. You would either hate it and call it pretentious or add it to your favorites – there is no in between.