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Browsing Tag: contemporary fiction

Leah Reads: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age centers its story on a late evening in Philadelphia, when a young Black woman’s boss calls her in a last-minute emergency to babysit her young daughter. Emira, the babysitter, is asked to take the toddler to the neighborhood’s upscale grocery market, where she is accused of kidnapping the white child. The story spirals from there: Emira’s acceptance of, then resistance against, the societal expectations that had immediately deemed her guilty, her boss’s over-the-top obsession with proving herself a nonracist, all set against the backdrop of Instagram culture and coming-of-age adulthood. This novel is different than anything I’ve read–that’s a good thing–in that it’s very rare one reads a book where she’s not quite sure how to feel about the villain character: Do I like her? the reader thinks. Is it okay if I like her? Such a Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel, and she writes her characters with such a gentle pen that it’s not until I was halfway through the book that I figured…

Leah Reads Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon“This wacky, charming novel. . . draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance. . . Hilarious and moving.”—People No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than 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 timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.  But 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…

Description
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But 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.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
 
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 
Notes
I'll be completely honest: I almost put this book down. By page 14, I felt like I couldn't connect with the main character, she bugged me with her haughtiness, and I just couldn't see myself reading an entire story about someone so completely unlikeable. Spoiler alert? That's the absolute point. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE is a funny, surprising, original read. Gail Honeyman expertly crafts this debut so that the reader roots for the unlikeable character anyway, learns to understand her, and even empathizes with her just a bit. If a book can teach a lesson, this one shows us that patience can work magic and that we truly do not understand anyone until we get to know her. Set in Glasgow, Scotland, Honeyman brings us smack into a world of personal struggle, daily monotony (and the reasons for it), individual heartaches, and people who are as real and charming and wonderful as anyone who happens to be sitting next to you on a train into work in the morning. Honeyman's writing reminds me a lot of Maria Semple in WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? and Helen Simonson's MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND (which are two of my favorite books). If you are a reader who enjoys intelligent, witty, insightful stories about the quirkiest of characters, this one is right up your alley. Eleanor Oliphant (our protagonist herself) will stay with you long after you pass page 14 and finish this lovely book.