Saturday, September 21, 2019

Review: ELEANOR by Jason Gurley

Rating: 1/5 stars

I first heard about this book in someone’s book review on YouTube, and I don’t remember what they said about it except that I thought it sounded good, so I added it to my list. Fast-forward two years and I finally start reading this book while having completely forgotten what its premise is. I’m fifty pages in and questioning why I was interested in it in the first place when I read the back of the book for the first time. And it doesn’t sound like anything I would enjoy, so I don’t know why I ever put this on my list. I can’t remember what that person on YouTube said about it that had me so interested, but I feel cheated. I expected more, something fantastical at least in a small degree, and instead I get a contemporary fiction story about grief and a broken family. I don’t like sad stories; I don’t care to read hard-hitting contemporaries. But having been already 20% into the book at this point, I felt like I had to continue.

By 30% into the book, I knew this story just wasn’t for me. I was pretty bored with it and I was dreading picking it up to continue, so I ultimately decided to put it down and mark it as DNF because I wasn’t having a good time.

Eleanor is a character-driven story about a girl named Eleanor who has to help her grief-stricken mother cope with a loss while also dealing with the loss herself. Ultimately this was a story about family relationships and grief and possibly hope, although I didn’t get far enough to get to the hope.

This is a magical realism story. I’ve always struggled with magical realism because it’s not fantastical enough to be a fantasy story but it’s also not normal enough to be a contemporary story. But I still read it like a contemporary, and then I had to suspend my disbelief too much and just ended up skeptical of the whole thing. And that’s what happened here. I erroneously expected this to be more fantastical than it was, and while it did have some magical realism elements, it wasn’t what I was expecting. This story ultimately was a portrait of grief, and that wasn’t something I was super keen on reading. And unfortunately, I just didn’t care about any of it either.

I want to make it clear that I didn’t hate this book, but also I didn’t enjoy it. It was not what I expected nor wanted to read, but I do think other people would enjoy this story because I do think it was well written. Just know beforehand what it’s about and don’t expect it to be fantastical because it’s not.

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