5 Books to Read if You Loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I’ll admit I was late to the Eleanor Oliphant party. I’d heard a lot of buzz since it came out in early 2017, so it was on my radar for a while, but it took me a long time to get around it it.

And while I wasn’t sure I would at first, I ended up loving Eleanor and her story.

The novel was much more than I could have ever expected! Eleanor is so much more than she seems at first. Initially I found her annoying and unlikable, though quickly I began to find her snark humorous and then I just loved her. While Eleanor is an odd duck, I found her surprisingly relatable. Her story resonated with me because she is much stronger than she seems. And while her relationship with her mother is different/worse than mine, that’s a Universal struggle for women, learning to move beyond hearing their mother’s critical voice in their head. She and Raymond are both characters who are wholly human: They are flawed, they have good intentions, they love, they fight. The writing is simple yet the language is rich and there’s great emotional depth. There’s so much going on in this story: While there is lightness and humor, there’s also darkness and sadness. It’s a raw look at the effects of grief and depression, and also what it looks like to ask for help and begin to heal.

Since I know I’m not alone in my adoration of Eleanor, here are a few more hopeful stories with unique lovable protagonists that will warm your heart.

 

5 Books to Read if You Loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

 

 

  1. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I absolutely adored Evvie from start to finish. She’s easily going to be one of my all time favorite protagonists. Evvie is so relatable because she’s wonderfully human, she’s flawed and good intentioned. She’s giving and loving, yet she’s harboring secrets to protect herself and people she loves. Evvie’s story resonated with me because I’ve had my own howling-on-the-floor-crying- because-I-spilled-something moment (who hasn’t) and I loved that she indulged in it, then asked for help and got some.

The writing here is sharp, witty, and true to life. I appreciate that while the plot is a tiny bit predictable, the path to getting there wasn’t. Everything wasn’t tied up in a nice neat bow. While this is Evvie’s story, it’s also the stories of all eh side characters who are important in her life. This novel is ultimately about adulthood not looking like we pictured it, and trying to figure out what the hell to do about it. It’s a wonderful story all around about being human and taking care of ourselves.

 

2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry’s life is not what he had planned. Widowed, now his beloved bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and then a rare collection of poems is stolen. Fikry wants to isolate himself and wallow in his sorrow. Unfortunately for him, too many people care about him to allow it to happen. I loved how all the characters lives became intertwined on the island, and around the bookstore. It’s a sweet story yet not unrealistically so. Zevin perfectly captures what it’s like to live a life built around a love of reading and sharing that with others. I especially appreciate the message of how much power there can be I the shared love of books!

 

3. Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

This is not exactly a follow up to My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, it’s more of a spin-off. While Britt-Marie is a minor character in that book, here she is much more developed and relatable. While it’s not necessary to read My Grandmother first, I recommend it.

Poor Britt-Marie has left her cheating husband and is seeking work outside the home for the first time in forty years. The employment agency has only one position for someone of her experience level and so she moves to a tiny town to run the recreation center. This eccentric character meets her match in the town residents, including the children who play soccer at the rec center and have recently lost their coach.  Her story is sad, yet heartwarming and funny. Britt-Marie is annoyingly relatable and lovable.

 

4. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

A sweet story with a great premise. I kept imagining it as a rom-com starring Hugh Grant! I loved the atmosphere of Frank’s shop, and his magic like ability to guide people to the music they need most in life. Illse comes into Franks shop, wanting to learn about music. He wants to say no yet he’s drawn to her. This begins a story about taking chances despite fear, and learning to be brave and open up.

 

 

5. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky, her only goals was to get away, without ending up pregnant first. She leaves her home town in a beater of a car, ending up in Tucson, Arizona with a  child she finds along the way, a three-year-old Native American girl named Turtle. This is a story about love and belonging. It explores the complexity of humans who desire to both explore yet make a home.

 

 

 

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