Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Convenience Store Woman by Sayak Murata
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
September 18, 2018
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
I feel lucky to have connected with many characters on my reading adventures. Characters come and go as fast as books are finished, and new ones started. Every now and then, though, I come across someone in a book that I can’t stop wondering about long after I’ve finished reading their story. How are they doing? What have they been up to? I want just to pick up the phone and give them a quick call.
I share with you today three extraordinary ladies who have struggled to navigate life in a society that doesn’t always embrace the unique and quirky. The one thing these gals have in common is that they are perceived as misfits to themselves and the people around them. Their journeys are all rocky in their own way. They are inspiring and lovable; I hope you adore them as much as I do. Mr. Hemingway, I would like to introduce to you………….. Keiko, Eleanor, and Britt-Marie.
Keiko Furukura is a 36-year-old woman from Convenience Store Woman by Sayak Murata. Keiko has worked at the Convenience store in Japan since she was 18. She carries out her days mimicking her co-workers’ mannerisms and lingo and thrives on her day’s predictability in the store’s written manual. She even goes as far as consuming the majority of her food intake from this particular store only. She is literally “one with the store.” Keiko is a dependable and hard worker who lives an independent life. She is beyond socially awkward, has very few friends, has zero interest in any type of romantic relationship, has no advanced goals, and finds all of her joy only… you guessed it, at the convenience store. Even though Keiko is content with her life, the people around her find it socially appalling.
My next gal pal is Eleanor Oliphant from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor is a young girl who lives in an apartment, works a Monday-Friday office job, and enjoys her weekend routine of vodka and pizza in her Glasgow flat. Eleanor’s social behavior makes the people around her anything but comfortable. She has no friends and only a literal understanding of the world around her. As her highly dark past continues to haunt her, Eleanor lives her life on autopilot until, one day, she decides she wants more.
Lastly, there is the lovely Britt-Marie from Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. Britt-Marie is a 63-year-old woman who leaves her cheating husband to live on her own in a small town in Sweden called Borg. Her OCD, atypical social skills, lack of humor, and over-the-top cleaning behaviors make Britt-Marie supremely odd to the people around her. In Borg, Britt-Marie lives an alien life running the small town’s dying recreational center while forming surprising relationships with the new people around her. Living by herself as an independent woman for the first time allows her to process the sadness from her past finally and discover her self-worth. It isn’t a smooth journey, but one that will reshape her life forever.
I encourage you to read these three books to feel happy and sad, to observe the impact of loneliness, to have compassion, and to see the power of love in all shapes and sizes. You can speculate about how these women came to be, but most people do not want to be defined by their past alone but by the journey as a whole. With common themes of loneliness, humor, acceptance, and love that float through these stories, it is not a chore to chuckle and cry while reading the same page. Once immersed in these three books, any sorrow you feel will turn to pom poms cheering these ladies on. You will no longer be sitting in the stands watching their lives unfold. Instead, you will be standing on the turf and rooting them on with all your heart and soul. I mean, who doesn’t want an underdog to win??????
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is going to be a movie. Sayaka Murata was selected to be Woman of the Year in 2016 by Vogue Japan. I’m calling Britt-Marie to see if she can come over and get my son’s white baseball pants cleaned!!!!!!!
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