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All booksContemporary fictionEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Contemporary fiction

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Gail Honeyman, on your first book!
Once a year, we break our own rules and share a book from earlier in the year that wowed us.

by Gail Honeyman

Quick take

"This is a warm account of one woman’s fight to let go of old hurts and insecurities and make room for self-acceptance and friends."

Why I love it

Gabrielle Union
Guest Judge

Ever meet one of those people who, for no clear reason, treats you like you’re not worth the time of day? I often wonder what their reason is for acting like that. Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Are they just clueless about how conversations work? Or could it be that their life experiences give them reason to be guarded, to be wary of giving other people even the tiniest of ins?

Eleanor Oliphant falls—mostly—into the latter category. Thirty years old, she’s a mid-level accountant whose life runs along several well-worn, if lonely, tracks: dinners for one, weekly calls with her spritely, acid-tongued "Mummy," and, most of all, taking pains to avoid humanity. Sure, she doesn’t have friends, but in general, Eleanor is doing okay. In fact, she’s "completely fine." Um, yeah, no.

Though I was instantly won over by her cheerful narration, it wasn’t long before I began to suspect that Eleanor is not as fine as she pretends. Her plan to marry a local rock star in order to impress Mummy is just weird. Her weekend vodka-drinking seems excessive. And while her inability to get along with co-workers is definitely due to a lack of social graces (you’ll LOL at a few unwitting moments of rudeness), it also comes from her steadfast refusal to connect. When she’s forced to rescue an old man who’s collapsed outside the office, we realize that while Eleanor possesses the ability to let love in, heartbreakingly, she’s got some reason not to.

To be clear, this isn’t a mystery about Eleanor’s dark past, although gradually, the truth of her frightful upbringing is revealed. This is a warm account of one woman’s fight to let go of old hurts and insecurities and make room for self-acceptance and friends. If it sounds like a corny premise, trust me when I say this girl’s got grit. She’s a survivor, she’s witty, and, against all odds, she’s got a fair bit of unextinguishable pride. She’s Eleanor Oliphant. I can’t wait for you to meet her.

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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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