Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published by Penguin on May 9, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Women, Literary, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

No. She’s not.

I think that’s ok. I think it’s ok to not be fine, but the lame, standard response to “how are you?” is, “fine”, “good”, “ok”. All smiles. When actually no one is fine or good or ok all of the time and we are all afraid to say it. God forbid we feel it.

I really love Eleanor. Yes, I hated the way she called her mother “mummy” throughout the whole thing. Yes, her prim and proper facade was irritating. But she’s just so perfect because Eleanor is completely herself most of the time. She’s not her vulnerable self, because that’s scary, but she is her imperfect self perfectly.

I know some people don’t like this book, haven’t got into it, but I’ll tell you a secret. The book is actually about trauma and a lot of it. At times Eleanor is just eccentric, amazingly interesting and funny, but it’s much more and much darker than that. Lucky I fell in love with this woman quickly. The love affair enabled me to keep reading and I was very happy I did.

Unfortunately, I gave my copy to the goddamn street library before writing this (foooooooolish) and I had pages earmarked that I wanted to discuss. Pffft. I’m an amateur book reviewer and right now it shows.

I can’t forget the general gist of what I wanted to write about though. I wanted to write about her loneliness. It is all encompassing. I don’t think she knows it is, for much of the book, but it is there like another character. Tick tock of the clock in a quiet room. It’s there and it is possibly the most accurate depiction of loneliness I’ve ever read. Shit. I need my copy of the book back. Or any copy. Hang on a tick.

“When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.”

There it is. I’m going to have to re- read this book because there are moments that are like gold. I read an interview with the author a while back (see? research) and she said that she said something about this idea that people can spend an entire weekend not talking to anyone. She said she thought this only happened to old people. Pffttt. Come on now Gail.

I had a lot of smiles while reading this book too. Particularly at Eleanor’s experience of having a visit from a social worker. Where this gem occurred:

“I assume that it’s part of the job, checking to make sure that I’m not storing my own urine in demijohns or kidnapping magpies and sewing them into pillowcases.”

That one was a laugh out loud on the train moment actually.

and then this…

“Well, I haven’t become aware of any additional support needs, and I’m fully integrated into the community, June,” I said.”

For much of the book I could hear Eleanor’s voice as I read. I cried for her, I was happy for her, frustrated at her. Eleanor had me feeling every emotion possible. Her and her alone. I know someone is making this movie, but I tell you, I don’t know if an actress can do this character justice. I may eat my words. I may be surprised. I doubt it though. Eleanor is a character I don’t want anyone messing with. I’m quite protective of her.

Ok, one more thing before I go. I could write all day about this book and it’s not even a thriller! I love the hint at romance. No fluffy, cringe worthy stuff. It felt real. It was refreshing. The focus was on friendships and I really like that.

It’s the authors debut novel and not gonna lie, I expect even more greatness in the future.

five-stars

About Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine won the Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Book of the Year, was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize, the Desmond Elliot Award, and the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is Honeyman’s debut novel and she lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Book Review – Facing the beast by Jackie Bluu

I received this book for free from the author, Craig M Dial, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to the author for the opportunity.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review – Facing the beast by Jackie BluuFacing The Beast by Jackie Bluu
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Brave doesn’t even begin to describe this book…

This world is filled with powerful, amazing, extraordinary women and Jackie Bluu is one of them. Facing the Beast is a very short book, but it will stay with you for a long time after reading it. It may take you a while just to get beyond one page. The thoughts and feelings depicted are so raw, real and heartbreaking. The topic of this book is very close to my heart and is about the victim’s perspective of child sexual abuse.

The content is not for everyone. There are some graphic descriptions and language, however, the feelings, experiences and drawings give incredible insight into someone’s mind and the impact of sexual abuse. I felt angry whilst reading it, but not half as angry as the person experiencing this type of trauma.

The anger is evident:

He smirked through it all, and denied it all…

through his thirty – two coffee stained teeth and his putrid cigarette-rotted breath.

The fear is real:

Press the panic button!

Assemble all signs of joy and stuff ’em in a bag!

stop, drop and roll into a hiding place!



The grief lingers:

See, loneliness is all I know-

loneliness is my familiar friend-

and loneliness is my comfort zone.

Facing the beast is an incredibly important collection of thoughts and feelings. The author was not aware of what I do for a living when she sent me her book. I am so grateful for it and I want all of my colleagues to read it because we do important work with children and can hopefully have an influence over their experience and make the world a slightly better place.

Facing the Beast is not just important for those in the caring/welfare professions to read though, it is for the public. Individuals in the wider community need to know the trauma. Perhaps they won’t understand it, it might be hard to read – but – if it makes us cringe and hurt and feel bad…how did it make the child feel who was living it???

Read Facing the Beast and you might just begin to understand…

Synopis

Facing the Beast is a story of the mind depicting grief, mental illness, and the effects of child sexual abuse. 

How does the mind continue to unravel after enduring years of abuse as a child? How does one try to cope with that leftover trauma along with added unresolved grief? Written in a snarky collection of thirty poems, some of which are simple illustrations, readers have a chance to get inside the author’s head and witness a damaged woman’s struggle to overcome these tragic experiences.

This chapbook brings forth difficult and uncomfortable subjects to the table, with just the right hint of sarcasm and dark humor.

five-stars

About Jackie Bluu

Jackie Bluu is a book publicist by day and a writer by night. She manages FishFood, a literary and arts magazine, on weekends, helping emerging writers share their work on a weekly basis.
Facing the Beast is Jackie’s first publication. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her fiancé, her dog, Paulie and goldfish, Fishy.

Book Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2007
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General
Pages: 440
Format: eBook
Goodreads

five-stars




Old School

I know, I know… this book was published in 2007 and I’m only reading it now. I’m slow to the party on this one. I wish I had read it sooner. I’m a converted Jodi fan.

I had read another of Jodie’s books (The Pact) and I loved it and several friends recommended Nineteen Minutes as another great read.

The book was a change of pace for me. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, more of a drama, but has moments leaving you on the edge of your seat. I had trouble putting it down.

A school shooting is a horrible reality in the US and has been for a long time. The details of the school shooting were heartbreaking. Jodi does a fantastic job of describing the events leading up to and the post impact of the shooting. There are many players in the telling of the story. From the police investigator, to the lawyer (hello again Mr McAfee from The Pact), to the parent of the shooter and of the victim. Jodi accurately reflects the thoughts and feelings of the characters and yourself as the reader.

From the investigator:

He had no fucking idea how to process a nightmare this massive…

From the mother of the shooter:

no one seemed to have the right words of comfort for someone whose son had just killed ten people.

The overall feeling and questions you ask yourself when reading:

Did every teenager have the capacity to fall on one side or the other of that tightrope, and could you identify a single moment that tipped the balance?

As well as the courtroom drama that plays out, the book focuses on relationships. In particular the relationship between mother and daughter and the associated struggles. Also worth mentioning is the exploration of relationships between friends and the cruelness of young people.

I loved the book and a friend advised me it reminded them of the book We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I loved that book too, but they are different. There are many more perspectives in Nineteen Minutes and I don’t think it is as dark as We Need to Talk about Kevin, although the same feeling of heartbreak and senselessness is there – as it is with all the shootings that occur on a daily basis. I’m grateful  I live in Australia, where thankfully, since the Port Arthur massacre, shootings are not commonplace in my country.

Read this and be prepared to be moved.

Synopsis

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.


Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever.

Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

five-stars

About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.