Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

When people ask me what I do–taxi drivers, hairdressers–I tell them I work in an office.

Seems like my streak of entertaining and enthralling reads is still going on. Hurray for making the right decisions!

Some people told me that this was a romance, making me frown a bit when getting to know Eleanor Oliphant. First of all, she isn’t in the right state of mind for a romance, secondly, a romance with whom? Do women always need a romantic relationship to show personal growth?

Luckily those people were wrong, Eleanor shows growth because she has to and wants to, and -gasp- is allowed a relationship with a man that isn’t a romantic one. Apologies, that’s a mild spoiler.

As I say so often: if this would have been written by a male author, and the protagonist male, it might have been viewed as Deep and slice-of-life instead of the quick rejection of calling it chicklit because it involves women living life. Eleanor Oliphant showcases character building, motivations and lessons learned without any of it being obnoxious. While being funny from time to time as well.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman, Viking 2017

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

What’s surprised me most about seeing my sister dead is the lingering smirk on her face.

Right now I’m following a school course about Young Adult Literature, which I’ve got to read four different books for. All of those have white protagonists, only one of those four is female. I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story next to this one, and guess what; both involve depression. So hey kids teachers, YA with Good Subjects come in other colours as well. Anyway, this was my soap box, let’s move on to the novel.

Julia’s good, sensible, perfect Mexican older sister is dead, and now Julia has to wear the brunt of her mother’s attention and emotions, and her father’s absence. As she never was the perfect Mexican daughter, this doesn’t make daily life any easier. Julia wants out, wants to live life to the fullest, and doesn’t care for getting married and becoming a mother, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

These struggles get extra layers when Julia’s mind goes in overdrive about everything and when she discovers that her sister might not be so perfect after all. How to keep that all in, because you’ve got no-one to share it with?

Julia so very clearly wants to escape and move on, but just like It’s Kind of a Funny Story‘s Craig, she’s got too many tentacles keeping her down. Still, the novel manages to end on a high note, and leaves me eager to visit Chicago one day.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Erika L. Sanchez, Alfred A. Knopf 2017

Stoker

99 min.

You don’t have to understand a movie to like it. I’ve been curious about Stoker for a while, stokerbut it leaving Netflix soon gave me the necessary urgency to finally watch it.

Stoker is one of those films in which the plot is almost a side project: it’s the actors and their surroundings that lift ‘mysterious man that influences bereaved family’ from it’s Lifetime/Hallmark risk.

It’s a film like an art piece: no clear hints on what to feel or what you should think about it. Is the stranger a monster or just evil, is India how she is because of her family or is her mother who she is because of India? Even after clues and climaxes there are still traces of insecurity: did all this really happen like this/that?

It leaves you with a slightly uncomfortable thrill, packaged in morbid prettiness.

Stoker, Fox Searchlight Pictures 2013

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion?

The person you love is 72.8 percent water and there’s been no rain for weeks.

Second book with absurdly long title in less than four weeks time? Also: Scandinavian. Which means that I want to like it, but always am a little bit confused by the way it’s written. Cool, without frizzles but which also gives it the risk of being slightly boring.

Some stories are like those pieces of clothing with which you struggle to find the right hole for putting it on. The first 40 – 50 pages I had to get used to the lack of goals main character Matthias has (he just wants to be a cog in the machine, nothing else), the repetition of this and other emotions and yes – the writing style.

His break point was pretty much aligned with mine. Suddenly I wanted to hold him by his hand, see him through his questions, self-discovery and the uninhabitable but gorgeous (described) Faroe Islands. I cared for the man and his head-in-the-sand-behaviour.

Near the end I felt like I had become acquainted with him because of listening to his life story. It wasn’t always pretty and sometimes I wanted to smack him for being stupid, but I cared. And that’s always nice in a book.

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion?, Johan Harstad, Seven Stories Press 2011