Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely 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 time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then 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.

Review:
I absolutely love this book, in fact, it is one of my favourite books that I’ve read in awhile. Maybe ever.
Eleanor is a fantastic character and Honeywell has portrayed her perfectly with quirky humour and dry wit. She’s a woman who insists that she is completely fine, despite the fact that she has no friends, eats the same meal every day, and drinks her way through the weekends. She doesn’t understand social cues and the glimpse we get into her mind as she navigates her world is both wonderful and tragic.
Honeywell has also done an amazing job of revealing just parts of Eleanor’s story at a time, leaving us wondering what has happened to her and why she is the way she is.
I highly recommend this book. There are lines where I actually laughed out loud, there were moments where I saw myself and my own social awkwardness, and there were times when I was cheering for Eleanor and her stripped down sensibilities.
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Book Review: In Your Hands by Ines Pedrosa

In Your Hands

An internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel spanning three generations of women united in their struggle for independence and fulfillment against oppression.

Told from three different perspectives, this sweeping saga begins in 1935 Portugal, in the grip of Salazar’s authoritarian regime, where upper-class Jenny enters into an uncommon marriage with the beguiling António. Keeping up appearances, they host salons for the political and cultural elite. In private, Jenny, António, and his lover, Pedro, share a guarded triangle, build a profound relationship, and together raise a daughter born under the auspices of rebellion.

Thirty years later, their daughter, Camila, a photojournalist who has captured the revolutionary fervor and tragic loss of her family—and country—reminisces about a long-lost love in Southeast Africa. This memory shapes the future of her daughter, Natália, a successful architect, who begins an impassioned quest of her own. As she navigates Portugal’s complex past, Natália will discover herself in the two women whose mysteries and intimate intrigues have come to define her.

Through revealing journals, snapshots of a turbulent era, and private letters, the lives of three generations of women unfold, embracing all that has separated them and all that binds them—their strength, their secrets, and their search for love through the currents of change.

Review:

In Your Hands is a lovely book and told in an interesting, captivating way.

 

First we read from Jenny’s journals, about her life, beliefs, and desires. She is a fascinating woman in an unusual situation at a time of political unrest and in an unconventional marriage. Her journals draws the reader in to her very human story among all of the interesting circumstances of her life.

 

Next we read Camila’s, Jenny’s daughter, thoughts on photos she is looking at in an album. We get to know her and her upbringing in Jenny’s world. We learn about the unique challenges that Camila faced as political turmoil took over.

 

Finally, there are Natalia’s, Camila’s daughter, letters to her grandmother. These round off the lives, ambitions, and values of the three generations. We see how things have changed in Portugal and what a woman’s life was like, the choices she had, and how these three interesting women made their way.

 

I enjoyed the writing and the translation of this book, and getting to know all three generations of strong women. It was thoughtful and the three different ways of telling the story really worked for each character.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Review: Good Me, Bad Me

Good Me, Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review:

 

Good Me, Bad Me is quite a book. Not only is the subject matter intense, but the writing adds to this tension with its terse and poignant turns of phrase, and the way connections are made without spelling everything out. It is the story of Milly, whose mother is a serial killer and how abused she was whole life. One day, Millie can’t take it any more so she turns her mother in to the police.

 

This book is an exploration of Milly and how she thinks and acts, especially given her past. She wants to do good things and be good, but she also has it in her to be bad. Her thoughts and actions are intense and horrible sometimes and feel authentic given what she’d been through. There is a type of nature versus nurture dichotomy, and huge tension over which one will win.

 

Throughout the book, we certainly feel for Milly, but we also know that something is wrong. Her thoughts are honest and raw, so I found I didn’t want to get too close to her, but I was completely fascinated by her.

 

Personally, I was totally enthralled and couldn’t stop turning the pages, though it did get so intense at one point that I had to have a little break. If you like psychological thrillers, I would highly recommend this book.

 

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Book Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks

Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

My Review:

When I first started to read Red Clocks, I wasn’t sure this was going to be the book for me. But then, I continued reading, and boy was I wrong!

I got a bit confused at first by the chapter changes — each chapter is from one of the four main character’s point of view and their name is never mentioned in that chapter. However, once I got to know the characters, their voices were so unique that there was no danger of confusing them.
I love the premise of the book — that in the near future (ie, anytime, really), the abortion laws in the US are repealed and embryos are granted person status, which changes everything around reproduction. Also, there’s a new law around adoption where “every child needs two”, meaning single people can no longer adopt. Red Clocks takes place just as these new laws are going into effect so that we can see their full impact.
By throwing the world into this kind of situation, combined with the story of the 19th century Icelandic Arctic explorer, Elivor. Zumas is able to explore the concept of motherhood from many different angles in a fascinating and thoughtful way. By about mid way through the book, I couldn’t put it down and just had to finish.
NOTE: I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley.

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