Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymanr

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman

PBR Book Review:

Eleanor is unique or maybe I should say odd or damaged, but her story is moving. She loves routine. She also loves crossword puzzles, pizza and vodka. As a child her mother constantly told her she was ugly and she also suffered the kind of trauma that is difficult to rationalize and impossible to forget, which is most likely the cause of her social awkwardness and inability to relate to others.

Then a few unexpected events create fissures in Eleanor’s small world, enough to make her think about changing. Slowly, she begins to re-create herself and ultimately realizes she can let other people into her life.

Her journey, her warm quirky personality and the people she meets along the way merge together for a heartwarming, enchanting read. Recommend this gem of a debut novel.

Book Club Talking Points:

Eleanor’s journey sheds light on mental illness, depression, survivor guilt and how judgmental people can be. It also highlights emotional abuse, physical abuse and child neglect. Society would be all the better to remember some scars are not visible and kindness works wonders. It may also be interesting to debate where Eleanor is on the Autism spectrum – if at all. n worthy, as are the actions and decisions of some of the characters.
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*Discussion Questions

1. Eleanor Oliphant lives a lonely life. She is also strange. Discuss the possibilities for this behavior. Does she behave this way because of her very abusive mother? Does her face scar play into her being reclusive? She has no filter and says inappropriate things at times. Do you think she has a personality disorder like OCC or Autism? How much do you think her lack of social skills play in her wanting to be alone?

2. Eleanor loves routine and order in her life. She has no future dreams for herself. She has had the same job for nine years. She doesn't have any friends. However, she insists everything is fine. Do you think she believes this? She drinks a lot of Vodka- is this a form of escape? If so what does it say about her?

3. Eleanor suddenly decides she has met the man of her dreams when she attends a concert - she falls head over heels for a musician. Why has she chosen someone she has never met. Do you think it's because she feels safe with him? Is this an indication she is not ready?

4. Abusive relationships are life altering. Discuss the damage Eleanor's mother has caused. Why do you think Eleanor continued her weekly phone conversations with her mummy?

5. Why did Eleanor suddenly want to change her outward appearance? Was it only because of her phantom love?

6. Discuss Eleanor's relationship with Raymond the IT guy. What effect did his kindness and acceptance have on her? He was really her first real friend - yet he was so at odds with her beliefs in the way he dressed, ate and communicated. Why did she continue to be his friend? Discuss Raymond's quirks - were they similar to Eleanor's?

7. Discuss Eleanor's relationship with her co-workers and her boss. What was her perception of them initially? In the end? What changed, them or her?

8. Forced by Raymond to help an old man who falls in the street, at first Eleanor is put off and judgmental. Discuss her growth in this area and how this simple task of helping another changed her life.

9. Did this story change the way you think about people who are different or perhaps suffer from mental illness? If so how? Are you more or less tolerant?

*Discussion Questions By PrincetonBookReview.com - Feel free to use with attribution.

Book Summary
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon.

“A charmer…satisfyingly quirky.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times “Books to Breeze Through This Summer”

“This wacky, charming novel…draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance….Hilarious and moving.”—People

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.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the 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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