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Book Review - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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TL;DR: it's a great book, but be warned, it deals with some difficult issues.

I'd finished reading this book early December but have been dithering about the review. On the one hand, the writing is superb. Eleanor's voice is clear and vivid, and she is a funny and relatable character (think Sheldon with an inferiority complex). The observations she makes about modern society are astute and hilarious. There are many times where she comes across as the only sane person in the book. There were many moments in the book where I thought that I would really like to be Eleanor's friend. Quite a few where I thought I would really like to be Gail Honeyman's friend, I think we'd hit it off.

On the other hand, there were moments where I wanted to throw the book down. There were moments in the book where Eleanor comes across as a weirdo which feel forced, like the author tried to make her a little less reliable, a little less relatable. There are two plot twists and one revelation. Eleanor's revelation that the singer she fell in love with is a jerk is only a revelation to her, but for me, as a reader, it feels like she's intelligent enough to have figured this out long before she did. The first plot twist is foreshadowed in such a way that I figured it out in chapter three. The second plot twist isn't foreshadowed at all, so it feels forced and rushed as if it was tacked onto the plot just because the plot guide said there needs to be a third act twist.

I also think this book should come with a trigger warning. I know the Brits are not generally big on that but, at the risk of being called a snowflake, I think that books that discuss depression and attempted suicide should always come with a trigger warning. This book should also come with other trigger warnings, but because these are more intimately linked with the plot twists, I can see why those would be left out. I think it's fair to warn people they are going to read about a person's detailed plan of how to kill herself. Sure, you can stumble on a lot worse on the internet and social media, but you kind of know what you're getting yourself into when you open a browser.


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