It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity, but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless. Ten years later, Eleanor hides in plain sight. She is an average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town: poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had, the only other person who knows her secret, is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless.
Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.
Ever since I finished ELEANOR I’ve been trying to figure out a single word to describe it. I still can’t. I was drawn by the ethereal beauty of the cover and then pulled further in by the summary. Then I started reading and spent half the time enjoying the story and the other half trying to figure it out. There’s a lot to figure out, too.
In less capable hands, Eleanor herself would have been a difficult character to like. She doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, she’s very happy to be unnoticed and actually works very hard to stay that way. But as we learn about Eleanor, through her own thoughts as well as her relationships with David and her mother, Tabitha, she became so much more. My heart broke for her several times as she struggled against her own assumptions, about herself and others, and tried to find the best solution to problems no one should have to face.
The story itself is so much more than the misfit girl and the boy from her past. A cliché in any other telling, ELEANOR is far from it. Yes, the mean girls are there, so are the other misfits. The adults are at turns sympathetic and the sinister. And all the characters manage their roles without becoming caricatures. I held my breath as things in Eleanor’s life came to a head and decisions had to be made, and I’m content with the resolution. It’s not a sweet and sappy love story, though there are romantic elements to it – and has a lovely level of creepy scary to it, just enough to keep the reader guessing.
I would call ELEANOR a "good kind of weird" and definitely worth a read. I was thrilled to find out that there are more planned in Eleanor’s world and I can’t wait to return to it.
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