Our book club pick for February 2019 is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymon! I first read this book last year and it blew me away. I laughed harder than I ever have, I cried, and I knew I had to share it with my friends.
Eleanor is socially awkward- somewhere on the spectrum- and this is her story. A prickly curmudgeon has never won me over quite like Eleanor. She may be fine- but after reading this- I was not. I can’t explain all the ways this story touched me. It’s funny, witty, and entertaining, but deeply moving and full of growth, love, strength, and the importance of human connection. Another one where you feel so apart of the lives of the characters it’s just devastating when it ends. It turns out it’s being made into a movie by Reese Witherspoon, so you better read it before then! I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love this book.
*WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW*
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Discussion Questions
- Before we say anything about the book, do the thumb vote:
- On the count of three, everyone is going to hold up their hand signal
- If you read the book, you’ll use your right hand to give it a thumb rating
- If you started the book but didn’t finish it, you’ll hold up an empty fist
- If you never started the book, you’ll hold up two high-fives
- Discussion Questions:
- What was your first impression of Eleanor? What assumptions did you make about her quirks?
- What do you believe a doctor would diagnose Eleanor with? PTSD? OCD? Autism? Depression?
- Can you pinpoint the time when Eleanor’s heart seemed to soften? What experience played the biggest part in her shift?
- What did Raymond find so appealing about Eleanor? What drew him to her over and over?
- Eleanor mentally mocked Raymond for many of his choices, qualities, and clothing, but in what ways was Raymond more adept than she?
- Knowing the truth about Eleanor’s family now, let’s revisit her exchanges with her mother. Did you see what was ahead? How did the author lay the groundwork for the final plot twist?
- Do you think Eleanor truly believed she was speaking to her mother?
- What was your reaction to the final plot twist, and the reveal of Maryann? Was this emotional for you?
- Eleanor is afraid she may be like her mother. Is this a reasonable fear? What is the balance of nature vs. nurture? Do you think she would have been odd still if born into a different family? Do you think there was an impact of her being a child of rape?
- Eleanor’s mother often went from extremes of extravagance to starvation. She insisted they deserved the best of everything and was a well-travelled woman. What was the truth behind all of this?
- What are the different ways the title of the book could be interpreted?
- Let’s discuss Eleanor’s tragic obsession with Johnny Lohman. Why does she choose someone she’s never met?
- What makes Glen the cat the perfect companion for Eleanor?
- Did this story change the way you think about people who are different or suffer from mental illness?
- What was your reaction during Eleanor’s attempted suicide?
- What did this book make you realize you take for granted?
- What do you think happens to Eleanor after the book ends?
- What do you think the future holds for Eleanor and Raymond? How is their relationship portrayed- is it love? Is it better if it is or isn’t?