This novel marked the beginning of the latest review slump/fall behind. Between this being the type of novel that is always harder for me to review and having read it a time when things got busier for me (more work and in an office with friends which means dinner and lunch plans that don’t involve reviewing), it was a bit too easy to fall behind even as I kept reading.
Within the first two pages of the novel, Eleanor describes her normal weekend routine. She considers her office job exactly that, a job, not a career, and doesn’t enjoy it very much. On Fridays, she buys a frozen pizza, a bottle of wine and two bottles of vodka, and then spends the rest of the weekend consuming them until it all starts over again on Monday. That right there already lets the reader know that something is very off about Eleanor’s life, and she is not fine, even if she managing her life as such.
Two things occur in close proximity to each other to shake up Eleanor’s life: she develops a crush on a musician after a concert, which inspires her to make herself over, and after she helps an old man with the new IT guy, she gets drawn into more human interactions, despite herself.
Now some parts of this novel made me laugh since Eleanor’s social cues are not very developed and she refuses to be anything but honest in her interactions. If an invite says “don’t bring anything,” Eleanor will not bring anything. Other times, she made me cringe with awkwardness, especially the parts about her crush – probably because they reminded me a bit too much of my inability to talk to cute guys in middle school!
Behind all this, though, there is the deeper issue of what has made Eleanor withdraw so much from human interaction. She has burn scars, she shares early on that her boss probably hired her out of pity because of the bruises and a broken wrist she had at her interview. Her relationship with her mother is difficult, and she still interacts with a social worker regularly. Eleanor has something in her past that she has been avoiding by keeping her emotions distant and remote, but now it seems that something has clicked and decided she is done waiting for her life to start. However, it is questionable whether she can do that without dealing with her past.
Honeyman hints at things throughout the book so the reader picks up on some details much earlier than Eleanor is ready to confront them heads on, but while my interest was certainly piqued regarding her past, the novel is about much more than “what happened to her” and very much about the small changes in her current life and how they affect her.
I haven’t gone wrong with anything yet that has been enjoyed by both Reese and Cannonball Read, and this novel is no exception. I liked it quite a bit despite being a bit uncertain about the first few pages, and would recommend it!