Eleanor: A Novel

Eleanor: A Novel

by Jason Gurley

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101903537
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 681,136
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

JASON GURLEY is the author of Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and the fiction collection Deep Breath Hold Tight, among other works. His stories have appeared in the anthologies Loosed Upon the World and Help Fund My Robot Army!!! He was raised in Alaska and Texas, and now lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.


Read an Excerpt

Part One

1985

Agnes

The twins are six years old—just weeks away from their shared birthday—when it happens.

Agnes rushes about the house, looking for her rain boots.

“Esme,” she huffs as she climbs the stairs. “Ellie—have either of you seen my galoshes?”

“They’re called rain boots, Mom!” Esmerelda shouts. “Galoshes are the things you wear over your shoes.”

“Those are called overshoes,” Agnes says.

“No, they’re—”

“Just—” Agnes pauses on the landing, breathing hard. “Stop. Just stop.”

Esmerelda stands in the doorway of the girls’ bedroom. She shrugs, then squeezes past her mother and walks to the bathroom.

“Where’s your sister?” Agnes asks.

“Attic,” Esmerelda says, as if it should be obvious, and she shuts the bathroom door.

Agnes raps on the door with her knuckles. “Make it fast in there. Your father’s going to be waiting at the airport for us.”

“Whatever,” Esmerelda says, her voice muffled by the door.

Agnes pounds the door sharply with her fist. “Young lady, you’re too young for ‘whatever.’ Save it until you’re thirteen. What are you doing in there?”

Esmerelda doesn’t answer. Agnes turns and leans against the wall and presses her fists against her eyes and drops her mouth open in a hushed scream. Then she straightens up, pushes off the wall, and unclenches her hands slowly, stretching her narrow fingers wide until they tingle slightly. She takes a deep breath, then exhales.

“One thing at a time,” she says softly. “One thing, one thing.”

She stands there for a moment, almost swaying on her feet, eyes still closed. Then she takes a deep, calming breath, opens her eyes, and goes to the attic door.

“Ellie!” she shouts up the stairs. “You’d better be ready!”

Eleanor

Eleanor sits alone in her father’s workshop, studying the unfinished model house. It’s dim in the attic. The rain has turned the outside world a pleasant gray. She prefers days like this to any other kind—no sunshine, just rain. At age six, her favorite word is inclement. She uses it whenever she can, having learned it from her first school closure of the year. Today can certainly be described as inclement.

But the light spilling through the circular window at the far end of the attic is too pale, too far removed from the workbench, and Eleanor cannot see the details of her father’s latest project. Reluctantly she reaches up to the lamp and switches it on. A warm orange glow floods the work space, and the small house before her casts a long brown shadow across the table.

She can see the house clearly now and can almost pick out the last part her father painted: a hardened dollop of blue paint lurks beneath one tiny windowsill. She can picture his careful, deliberate brushstroke. He would have realized that he had too much paint on the brush. Under ordinary circumstances, he would have dabbed the excess paint on the mouth of the small bottle, but he had probably been in a hurry, in which case she could imagine him stroking the exterior of the house this way, then that way, and working the extra blob of paint into the narrow crevice beneath the windowsill, where it would be mostly hidden from view, a secret that only she can share with him.

The rest of the house is well constructed. She thinks it’s probably her father’s best work yet. The floor plan is creative, different from the simpler houses that she draws during art hour at school. Her houses are single-room blocks with leaning doors and lumpy rooftops. Her father’s are split-level constructions, sometimes with elaborate windows that reach all the way from the floor to the ceiling of a room.

Her favorite days are spent in the attic with him, perched on the stool on the other side of the table. She would be careful to stay out of his light. He would pull the lamp closer and peer through its magnifying lens at the house, delicately pressing the skeletal bones of the structure into the Styrofoam foundation with tweezers.

“Why do you make little houses?” she had asked him once.

“Well,” he answered slowly, drawing the words out as he fit a miniature chimney into place, “because I’m not a very good architect.”

“What’s an architect?”

He smiled at her without looking up. “Someone who designs buildings. They say where everything goes and what it looks like.”

“Why aren’t you a good one?”

“I’m not a very good student,” he confessed. “You have to be a good student to be a good architect.”

“Oh,” Eleanor replied. Then she said, “But you make pretty houses.”

“Well, thank you, sweetheart.”

She watched him a little longer, then asked, “What’s your work instead?”

“You know the answer to that,” he said. “What does Daddy do for a job?”

Eleanor bit her lip. “Real cheese.”

“Realty,” he corrected.

“I know,” she said, then laughed. “ ‘Real cheese’ is funnier.”

She studies the unfinished house on the table now and marvels at the microscopic detail: the insect-size stairs leading to the front door, the little brass knocker on the door itself. Her favorite parts are the lawn and trees, something her father’s houses didn’t always include but which this one does. The lawn spreads wide around the roofless home, rolling with little hills and crunchy vegetation. The driveway is empty, but a perfect mailbox stands at the end of it.

Down the attic stairs, the second-floor door bangs open. Eleanor jumps, jostling the diminutive house in her hands.

Her mother calls upstairs. “Ellie! You’d better be ready!”

“I’m ready, Mom!” she shouts back.

“Good.”

Eleanor hears the door creak as Agnes begins to close it again, but then the sound stops.

“You shouldn’t be up there without your father,” her mother adds. “Come on down now.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Eleanor jumps down from the stool. It rocks under her bottom, and she takes a moment to steady it before heading downstairs.

That’s when she notices the mailbox, its post snapped clean in half.

Agnes

The attic door opens a little more, and Eleanor comes out, looking sheepish.

“You know your dad wouldn’t like you being up there alone,” Agnes says.

Eleanor nods meekly and stares at the floor. “Yes, ma’am.”

“No time for moping,” Agnes says. “I can’t find my galoshes.”

“Your rain boots?” Eleanor asks. “They’re by the back door.”

Agnes shifts her jaw and goes into her thoughts, then snaps her fingers. “That’s right—I was covering the petunias.”

Eleanor turns toward her room, but Agnes puts a hand on her shoulder.

“No goofing off,” she says to her daughter. “I need you both downstairs. We’re late.”

Paul will return from Boca Raton in just under two hours. He had complained to Agnes on the phone last night that he’d seen only the inside of a Holiday Inn—his room and the banquet hall where the realty seminar was being held—for six days straight. He had put postcards in the mail—quaint photographs of gulls on the sterns of sailboats, funny pictures of elderly women in bathing suits—but none had yet arrived.

“I don’t want to hear it,” Agnes had said. “You’re in Florida. It’s your own damn fault if you can’t find the beach.”

She knew the strain in her voice was obvious. Paul had to have known she was approaching her limit—he had traveled three times last month, and then there were his regular nights drinking with the other realtors, plus a few late showings in the new beachfront development—but he went, anyway. Maybe he didn’t know how little patience Agnes had to start with. Maybe he couldn’t see that it was running out.

“How are things going?” he’d asked.

But her problems wouldn’t matter much to him. The walls of his hotel room were so close that he couldn’t see past them. Agnes and her problems weren’t real until he got home again and they were something he had to confront and solve.

“When you get home,” Agnes answered, “I’m driving to Portland, and I might spend all your money on wine and a suite of my own. And I might not ever come back.”

“Agnes—”

But she had hung up on him, and her frustration hadn’t diminished overnight. She steadies herself and kicks the runner flat again.

She scurries downstairs now. On the landing behind her she can hear the bathroom door open, and Eleanor and Esmerelda murmuring together. Agnes misses the bottom step and almost falls down. The red runner that covers the hardwood floor bunches up under her feet, and she slides and grabs at the banister.

Her boots are exactly where Eleanor had said they were, like small sentries beside the sliding glass door. It’s one thing off her back, and she exhales slowly. The glass is cool, and she rests her forehead against it and watches the rain falling in the backyard. Her breath fogs the glass, and then the fog quickly retreats when she inhales. Then it comes back with the next breath.

The backyard was supposed to be her place—her version of Paul’s attic. The petunias are lined up carefully beneath the plastic cover she put out the night before, safe from the rain, but now she doesn’t care. They’re only flowers. If they’d been destroyed by the rain, Paul would only tell her to get some more from the nursery. He wouldn’t consider the care she’d put into them, teasing them out of the ground, transforming them from hard bulbs into delicate, lovely paintings.

She’s serious about the hotel room in Portland.

Upstairs, the twins are fighting. She can hear the sound of their voices filter through the ceiling.

She should go up and pull them apart, but the glass feels nice against her skin, and her hair hangs around her face, separating her from the world outside, creating a small space that is all her own. She can feel the chill radiating off the glass, and each breath she lets out is warm and slow. The contrast between the temperatures is delightful.

Agnes closes her eyes. A lifetime of rainy mornings like this one. They are beautiful in their own cold way, but they burrow into her and turn her into somebody else. An angry parent, a lost child. Every one reminds her of her mother.

What little she remembers of her.

“It’s all water,” she mutters to herself. “Fucking water.”

Agnes pushes away from the glass door. She slips her feet into her boots. They slide in comfortably. The rubber creaks. Her shoulders are tight. Her head has begun to pound. She reminds herself to breathe—in, out, slowly, slowly—but the migraine will come along, anyway, and there is nothing to be done about it.

She goes to the foot of the stairs and calls again for the girls.

They appear at the top, disheveled, elbowing each other for standing too close.

“Get your coats,” she tells them. “We’re late.”

She presses her thumbs against her temples gently and moves them in circles. The girls reappear and thunder down the stairs. Agnes winces. This is not the time for one of her headaches.

The telephone chirps in the kitchen.

“I’ll get it!” Esmerelda crows.

“No, Esme—,” Agnes starts, but the girl moves in record time, and, given the choice now between her exasperated mother and her sister’s sudden important task, Eleanor also darts from the hall into the kitchen.

“It’s Aunt Gerry,” Esmerelda calls.

Agnes says, “Tell her we’re out the door, and get your bottoms over here and into your coats.”

“She says you have to talk to her,” Eleanor says, reappearing in the hallway.

“Jesus,” Agnes grumbles. “Fine.”

Gerry offers to drive to Portland for her. “I closed the office because of the storm,” she says. “You might as well keep the girls home. Let me go get the big guy for you.”

But that isn’t part of the plan, and though Agnes does not look forward to the long round-trip, she declines the offer. “We’re running late. I’ve got to get the girls into the car. Come for dinner later, if you want.”

She takes her own raincoat from the peg beside the front door and puts it on. She leaves it open, because it’s a stiff coat, and getting into the car is difficult when it’s zipped up. Her purse hangs on another peg, and she grabs it, too, then reaches instinctively for the small foyer table. Her fingers meet its empty surface, and she glances down.

“Keys,” she says, looking around.

The girls are waiting beside her in their coats: purple for Esmerelda, blue for Eleanor. The different colors were Paul’s idea. “So we can tell them apart,” he said. It wasn’t his brightest idea.

Agnes points at the coats. “Switch,” she says. “We don’t have time.”

Eleanor frowns and shrugs out of the purple coat. “You’re not supposed to be able to tell,” she complains.

Agnes pats the pockets of her coat, ignoring her daughter.

Jingle.

Esmerelda is holding the ring of keys on one finger.

Agnes exhales in a rush. “Thank you,” she says. “Are we ready?”

She looks again at her daughters. Esmerelda has a book in one pocket of her coat. Eleanor has a spiral notebook and a pencil case. Given time, the girls often retreat into their own worlds in exactly this way. Esmerelda reads books that she has sneaked from her parents’ stash, tired of her Nancy Drew mysteries, and Eleanor draws elaborate maps—underground tunnels full of misdirection and booby traps.

“What book did you take?” Agnes asks.

Esmerelda looks away. “Oh, just a book. It’s nothing.”

Agnes lets it go. She’d discovered a copy of The Shining under Esmerelda’s pillow a few weeks earlier and had interrogated the girl. As it turned out, Esmerelda didn’t understand most of what she was reading, but she understood the Danny parts of the story. To her, The Shining seemed to be the story of a boy who got to play all day in an empty hotel. It sounded like an adventure.

She opens the door. In the short time it has taken them to get ready, the rain has become a torrent, thundering down onto the lawn and driveway as if it might shatter the pavement. She ushers the girls onto the front porch with her, beneath the eaves, and locks the door.

“Count of three?” Eleanor asks, looking up at Agnes.

“Go now,” Agnes says, putting a hand on each girl’s back and nudging them down the porch steps.

The three of them run squealing into the rain. It pounds on their thin coats. Their boots splash in new lakes on the driveway. The blue Subaru glistens in the pale light. Eleanor and Esmerelda wrestle for control of the front door, jostling each other.

“In, in, in!” Agnes shouts over the rain.

But the doors are locked.

They scream and run back to the safety of the porch, breathing hard, their faces slick and wet. Eleanor stomps in place, shaking like a puppy.

“Front seat,” Esmerelda declares.

“It’s my turn,” Eleanor argues.

“Mom!” Esmerelda howls. “I called the front seat—”

“We don’t have time for you to fight over stupid things,” Agnes says. “This is a stupid thing. Figure it out. Okay? Now, count to five, then come after me.”

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Eleanor 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
LostSailorNY More than 1 year ago
A very well-written, emotional story of grief and redemption, quite moving. Gurley has an abundance of style and talent, but his greatest strength is in crafting deep, complicated, well-drawn characters who, even when he is putting them through truly awful things, are fully realized. I highly recommend this book.
litpixie More than 1 year ago
A story of two Eleanors both of whom disappoint their mothers. Both Eleanors are related. There are aspects of this book that I would have hated, but in this book they work; like the reset that happens towards the end of the book. The magic realism works beautifully in this book. It's an interesting story and honestly, perfect for a rainy day. Can't wait to read more by Gurley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got so emotionally attached to this book. I read it within a few days because I didn’t want to put it down. This is now one of my favorites ??
WritingAnyone More than 1 year ago
Wow. So I just … I just don’t know how to put this book into words, but I shall try… What I liked: This book is some kind of magical realism … and it’s just … wow. I’ll admit, the first pages I was SERIOUSLY considering DNFing it (I’ve only done that to 2 or 3 books in my life), except for the small problem of it being a review book. But then – but THEN. Okay. So there’s only been two books that I’ve read (the other being Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock) where there was just … something to the book that I just … got this good feeling abut, ya know? Yeah, it’s kinda hard to explain. But anyways, Eleanor had that. * And another thing, and I won’t say this about many books at all, I actually enjoyed the whole day to day aspect of it, rather then the “magical” part of it. It just … drew me in and I loved it. And Jack. Guys – Jack. Characters: Eleanor was our “main” narrator. And … I didn’t love or hate her. I definitely had a positive feeling towards her, though. She was sometimes annoying, but she was mostly super relatable and overall, a great narrator. Jack. Okay, so he was in only maybe a collective of one page, but he was by far my favorite. You really don’t get much on him, but since I liked him, my brain really built him up (especially to be like Zach from Heroes). He was sweet and helpful (while still being realistic), and he had such a … tragic feeling surrounding him. Mia and Agnes were both “eh” characters for me. When there was a POV of them, I was kinda dreading it, though they were both HUGE contributors to the storyline. Writing/Plot: This writing was just GORGEOUS. It was all written in a first-person, present tense that just gave it a haunting feel that just flowed SO WELL with the rest of the book. Even when I was struggling through the beginning of the book, I could realize and appreciate it. The plot … wow. I don’t think that I even remember it. Okay, so, it was amazing. You have this normal girl (in some sense) who has this tragicness always clinging to her, and you just follow her around. Magical stuff happens to her, and it was just done SO well. Problems: The beginning was SO SLOW. Like, GAH. And there are other times that it sorta dragged. Other/Summary: Stuff ta look out for: There is a lot of naked people. They recognize it, but if fits. Nothing to be really concerned about. Kissing happened once or twice. There is deaths; a suicide was mentioned that was uncertain if it even happened. Injuries. Drunk people. Lots of destruction and ruin. Everything is very … tragic. There’s a lot of uses of f**k and a few of s**t. So, guys, I just ADORED THIS BOOK. Anyways, I think that this book is one of those that you either love or hate. And I, obviously, loved it. I hope that you do, too! I’d recommend this for those who love tragic magical fantasies (but I’d say to be a teenager, or a mature reader, definitely). So, yeah! Thank you, Blogging for Books! I appreciate you giving me this review copy! *note: By the end of writing this review, I realized what it was about those two books (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and Eleanor). They both have an air of … unexplainable tragicness. I love tragic stuff (like Sally Sparrow!) and this just gives me a sad sort of happy. So, yeah, a tragic aura.
Flying_Monkeys More than 1 year ago
Reaffirms the ways in which one life affects another, in both good and bad ways. Eleanor is the story of one woman's choice and its ripple effects across the lives of her descendants. Young Eleanor’s mission, looking back through her life to find the ONE spontaneous decision that changed the lives of everyone in her family, will resonate with anyone who ever wished for a do-over. Steeped in gritty reality - depression, alcoholism, and suicide - Eleanor propels itself into “MIND BLOWN!” territory with its use of time, dream worlds, and the afterlife. Gurley’s version of these concepts is reminiscent of books like What Dreams May Come or Einstein's Dreams, while still being its own unique, heartfelt, mystical story. Highly recommended!
DarqueDreamer More than 1 year ago
Eleanor is powerful and emotionally raw. Jason Gurley delivers a story that is both heartbreaking and thought provoking all at once. This one is full of deep symbolism and imagery, and will take you on a journey of sadness and anger, entwined in a fantasy world. The Plot: Eleanor begins in the year 1962 centered around Eleanor, her husband Hob, and her daughter Agnes. We witness, what we know in this day and age, to be depression in Eleanor. In 1963 Eleanor goes for a swim in the ocean, never to return. The story jumps to her daughter, Agnes, and her husband Paul and twins Esmerelda and Eleanor. It is during this time we witness another tragedy and lose Esmerelda. Another story jump takes us 8 years in to the future, and it is here where we witness the heartbreaking after effects of Esmerelda's death. Eleanor, now 14, is the center of the story, left to deal with her mother's depression and alcoholism, when she begins disappearing and reappearing in strange worlds uncontrollably. It is these strange "in-between places" that may just help put her family back together. I don't know that I have ever been so emotionally affected by a book before Eleanor. Eleanor brings to light issues of depression, postpartum depression, and alcoholism. From the beginning, we can see that the Eleanor of 1963 is suffering from depression."Her attacks come all the time now, but she finds quiet, dark places- such as the closet floor, behind Hob's hanging shirts and sweaters- and cries there, where nobody can see her." (Gurley, 21). It is obvious that it is not well understood at that time, but Gurley did such an exquisite job of conveying it in the first chapter of the story that I understood why Eleanor felt she only had one option. Later we see how this time period and this act has left a lasting impression on Agnes. I could feel the emotional scarring she had from losing her mother at such a young age. Things didn't feel quite right between her and her children because of this. It is because of her childhood and the depression already present in Agnes that she resorts to alcoholism after the tragic accident. Reading the scene where we lose Esmerelda was probably the hardest thing I have EVER had to read! I felt the loss alongside Agnes and Eleanor. I understood why the depression and emotional scarring later in the story would result from the accident. I also understood why Agnes grew to resent Eleanor afterward (though I hated Agnes for feeling that way). Years after the accident, Gurley shows us the immense strain left on the family. Paul has moved out, Eleanor feels lost and alone, and Agnes has turned in to a 24/7 alcoholic. Paul still loves his daughter, but there is a strain between them because Eleanor feels responsible for taking care of her mother. "I'm the only thing keeping her from drinking until she's dead." (Gurley 163). Agnes is passed out about 90% of the time and, when she is awake, she spews anger and hatred toward Eleanor. She blames her for the accident and nothing convinces her to stop drinking. "Her mother takes only a few days to return to her habits, the fright of Eleanor's disappearance not a powerful enough catalyst to disrupt the routine." (Gurley, 122). There is so much symbolism in this book representing the struggles of depression and the feeling of helplessness. It's not just a "sci-fi" novel. Eleanor brings light to tragedy and emotional imbalances that are sometimes beyond our control. We see this played out when El
19269684 More than 1 year ago
If you love books that take you to worlds unparalleled, this is the one for you. The story is saddening and frustrating, but only because you find yourself invested in such a weirdly, beautiful story. You become engrossed and want things to occur in a particular manner, but when it doesn't, you ache for the main character, Eleanor. This story, Eleanor by Jason Gurley, is heart-wrenching... Eleanor is the story of five people and two entities. All of them come together, converging around one girl who's half of herself. A Twin. Eleanor, is the surviving sister of an accident and she's broken. Her twin, Esme, the dead twin and Eleanor's other half, is trapped... someplace else. All she wants is to get home, but can she? Can Eleanor help her get there? And who is with her while she tries to break through to the other side? I have to be careful how I speak of this story ( you know how I feel about SPOILERS). The tale is temperamental and distressing because so much is happening (all related to death) and you can see the train-wreck coming!. Its neglectful, depressing and so unhappy, but there's also hope. Lying just beneath a sheer film of disaster, you know there's a chance this can all be repaired and end on a happy note. I appreciated the enormous weight of grief from the parents as well as Eleanor, but I wanted them to find some closure. If you can fight through the sadness of the journey, you will appreciate this novel.. The tears on the cover are a true sign of what's to come, but I didn't cry. I wasn't that attached, but I was caught up enough to feel lost within within the mystery of the story, It's worth a read but understand, there will be a lot of strangeness and emotions going on. I'm moving off to the next read. The Full Review: http://bit.ly/EleanorNovel Rating: 3 out of 5 specs *The Goblin Crown is next. **Novel available through Crown Publishing.
NissaLD More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting. It's been so long since I book captured my soul, like Eleanor did. Not only this will be one of my favorite books of the year, but one of my favorite books of all time. This book was everything I didn't realize I wanted in a book. Grandmother Eleanor felt like a reflection of me, I feel like that I will become just like her with depression. I can't count on both hands on how many times I thought about killing myself, thinking that my family could move on. But this book made me realize that they wouldn't, that their lives, including my 6 year old brother, will be forever changed. This was the first book that ever truly made me cry. I loved everything about this book, from the characters, to the plot, and the beautiful writing.I love how the end of the prologue ties up with the epilogue; it was very fitting to see it end that way. Is it wrong that I want to see how things will play out after that change? Eleanor is written in third person in many POV's but mainly Eleanors, and in four parts. In the beginning we meet Eleanor's grandmother, who she is named after. Grandmother Eleanor wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, but end up pregnant, from there, well from what I can tell, her depression started. To help her cope she goes out swimming in the ocean every Sunday with her husband Hob, who is twenty years older than her. After an accident, they find out that Grandmother Eleanor is pregnant, which drives her deeper into her depression. During a rain storm she goes out to the sea and doesn't come back. In part one we meet Agnes, Grandmother Eleanor daughter she left behind. And instantly you can tell that her mother death still effected her. She doesn't know how to be a mother, since she really didn't have a mother. I can't imagine how she felt mentally with twins, twice the trouble. She, Esmeralda, and Eleanor are running late to pick up Paul, their husband/father, when they get into a car accident which kills Esme. From then on everything changes, Paul leaves, Agnes becomes a drunk and is horrible to Eleanor. Which I think is due to her being named after her grandmother. In this part, Eleanor falls into three dream worlds and doesn't know what is going on and why it's happening. We also meet Mea (view spoiler), the Keeper of the Valley, Aunt Gerry, and Efah. Finally doing on trip with Jack she finally goes to the Rift, which Mea wanted her to do for a long time. They finally meet, but it's only briefly, because Eleanor grew afraid of Mea, because Mea wouldn't tell her what she wanted. Two years has passed, even though it felt like only minutes to Eleanor. I have to say a few hours after that she goes back to the Rift and wants to know what is going. There she finds out who Mea is and they proceed to start changing the past. Oh boy do you find out who certain people are and to say I was shock would be an understatement. I should of guessed one of them, but I missed the clues, but the other one, I wouldn't have guessed at all. I can't get enough of this book. It's so beautiful. I don't know how much I can say this. I highly recommend this book, just read it. If you're thinking about picking it up, just do it, you won't regret it.
Reading_With_Cupcakes More than 1 year ago
I had to put this book down when I first started it. Was it because it was bad? No, no not at all. It is because I had read so many emotionally hard hitting books in a row that I couldn't do another one. It would have just messed with me too badly. I did pick it up after reading something else much less serious. And it was a good call. By doing that I was able to fully enjoy this book for what it is - a book that is going to hit you hard in your emotional gut. This book is kind of hard to explain. It is mostly about Eleanor. Eleanor lost her twin sister Esmeralda in a very tragic car accident when they were about 6 years old. The loss of Esme destroyed Eleanor's family. Her mom became her an alcoholic who resented Eleanor for being the twin that lived and her dad left. Weird stuff starts happening to Eleanor. She walks through doorways and ends up in strange places. She disappears for varying spans of time - a day, a couple of days, years... However, this book really isn't all about Eleanor. It is also about her family. I would love to be able to get into that a bit more, but I think that would lead to spoilers, and I don't want to do that to you. When you read this, you need to be ready to have a lot of feelings. There are some really intense scenes that are going to hit you very hard. You will not have trouble imagining them, and they are not going to be pretty. There are also a lot of hard topics touched on in this story - abuse, alcoholism, death, etc. Jason Gurley does not hold back. Eleanor is a fictional story, but it is also magical realism. That being said, you need to be ready for some weird. The weird won't necessarily make much sense in the beginning, but stick with it! You will be so happy you did. It will all make sense eventually. Also be ready for it to leave you thinking hard and long once you are done. I am still pondering over bits and pieces of this story days after finishing it. Also, some people like to classify this as a young adult novel. While this book does have a teenager as its main character, I wouldn't classify it as that personally. At best, this would be for older, mature teens with the way that it is told and the subject matter. And for those wondering, while there really isn't much in the way of sexual content, there is some swearing and nudity. This is a beautiful, gut wrenching read. I don't recommend reading it after a string of other hard hitting emotional reads. It may just cause you to unravel completely. My Rating 4.5 Stars This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. Find more of my reviews here: http://readingwithcupcakes.blogspot.com/
ShawnSorensen43 More than 1 year ago
Like an intelligent movie, Eleanor keeps the pages turning with the right amount of information left in and out. Highly imaginative and poignant, I'd compare the book to a cross between the movies Spirited Away (Japanese animation) and The Tree of Life (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn). One of the most beautiful writing styles I've come across in years, with an ending that packs a punch and brings a deep closure to the proceedings. A novel of magical realism fully grounded in the trials of parent- and childhood.
csmmom More than 1 year ago
Really 4.5 stars. I didn't know too much about this book going in and that made this read very interesting. I knew it was about the life of one twin whose sister had died. That was about it. I do not normally read fantasy and when this novel introduced some fantasy elements, I found them intriguing but slightly confusing. Aesthetically, the book is beautiful. The cover image is simple but tells a story. It depicts the story perfectly. The pages are soft to the touch and I love that in books. The book itself, is a bit heavy to hold while reading in bed but not too bad. I love it when a male writes a book from the female perspective and does it well. Check out my full review at: http://bookqueenreviews.worspress.com