We all have that co-worker who is a little quiet, a little strange, and a little less likely to be invited down to the pub for happy hour.
Eleanor Oliphant has spent her entire adult life devoid of social interactions. She is able to meet her physical needs (hello Tesco £3 meal deal), but having never experienced love or being loved, she is not aware of the emotional needs that are also required to live a life of fulfilment.
It is not a nice feeling to come into work on a Monday morning, realising that you haven’t spoken a word to another human since Friday evening. Or that your biggest social interaction that day was being snapped at by a co-worker, or handed change at your local supermarket. But this is all that Eleanor (any many people) knows.
It is one small act of kindness that opens up a new world to Eleanor – a world full of love, support and hope.
While the book is a tale of loneliness and despair, Gail Honeyman’s career is nothing short of a fairytale. Working full time in the administrative field, Gail found her fortieth birthday looming. She decided to finally sit down and write that book she’d been dreaming about for so long. It took her two and a half years to finish Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Fast forward to the present day and she has now won several awards, signed a movie deal and even a six figure sum for her hotly anticipated second novel.
It is easy to see how this Glaswegian set the literary world into a tailspin with her debut novel. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a moving, heart-breaking and completely unpredictable rendition of one woman’s struggle through the harsh realities of life.
The reader is able to relate to the clever, thoughtful and unexpectedly hilarious Eleanor, and they will quickly find themselves cheering her along throughout the book.
In today’s world we are more likely to disconnect from the people around us, preferring the faces on our Instagram feed to the faces around us. I know that I am far more likely to treat a stranger approaching me with apprehension and distrust, rather than a opportunity to build a connection and even a friendship.
Loneliness is an epidemic that is no longer reserved for the elderly. We are all affected by it, either directly or indirectly. And while Eleanor’s pathway to loneliness was a unique and harrowing one, the book shows just how easily one can be plunged into hopeless darkness with nowhere to turn.
If this book can teach us anything, it is to be kinder to that person you’ve deemed to be too weird or too quiet. Get to know their story and find a connection. We need to remind ourselves how important it is to care for the people around us. And we should never underestimate just how much one simple act of kindness can change someone else’s life forever.
Rating: I give this book a 5 out of 5, knocking History of Bees from the top of my ‘Best books of 2018’ list so far. Grab a copy today, and be prepared for some late nights! Just one more chapter…