My review: The light we lost, by Jill Santopolo

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About the book:

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

My review:

As much as I loved the writing and the beginning of this novel, I disliked the main characters and their ‘love’ story. I very much enjoyed the structure of the novel, the story-telling side and the language.

It was one of the fastest reads – in three days and inbetween work, home responsibilities and fitness. To be honest, I don’t know what I expected from this story. The interesting thing is that the selfish behaviour that both Lucy and Gabe had is quite realistic. So many people do exactly what they did – taking people who love them for granted, betray trust, waste other people’s time… These are the things that I absolutely despise in a relationship, in love. To me it’s not love. 

Unfortunately, the author and I have different views on what true love is. And it’s ok. For this same reason I couldn’t sympatise selfish and self-centred Lucy. I didn’t believe in her love for Darren, I didn’t believe in her poor attempts to show it was also love. To me it looked like she was doing him a favour staying in the relationship, just because she was scared she would have stayed alone if she chose Gabe at any point of those 13 years. And everything what she could give to this amazing man Darren who loved her with all his heart, was patient, caring, kind and forever understanding was that ‘half-arsed’ happiness she gave him. I honestly feel sorry for the guy.

At some stage the ending became quite predictable. On the other hand, I would love to know what will happen after all these events. That’s where the real story can actually start. 

Sometimes I think I disliked the story because it is so real and parts of it happened in every woman’s life. The scary thing what this book made me do was to check out on my ex-boyfriend who I had similar obsession with. I recognised this behavior in Lucy’s regular ‘scanning’ of Gabe’s life through social media. I think she was lying to herself saying that she didn’t care or wasn’t interested.

It all makes you think only about emotional side of the relationship, about some memories that at this current moment don’t have any value. Time that makes you forget all bad things and forgive mixes up to this dangerous cocktail. I am not saying people shouldn’t forgive, I am saying people probably shouldn’t forget. What is worth of your love and attention. What you can give and give to a person who really loves you, not out of boredom or some illusions. Sometimes you just need to make the right decision – follow your heart no matter what, but not at the expense of other people’s feelings and time.

My score is 3* out of 5*.

My review: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, by Gail Honeyman

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About the book:

Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever—if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.

My review:

It took me a while to get into this book and start understanding Eleanor. Her particular language, judgemental character, lack of confidence and extraconfidence at the same time at first put me off. But at some point something clicked and I was interested to find out why she is like that and what happened, and most importantly what will happen.

To me this book became the best representation of real loneliness that many people experience in their lives. I have never read the most correct, close to the truth and exposed description of loneliness like in this book. One of my favourite quotes, “These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.” How straight to the point is this quote! So many people are lonely but they will never or rarely can even admit it to themselves.

And another one, “If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” And this is just scary how true it is for so many people.

How real and how refreshing the thoughts that come into Eleanor’s mind. I must say I found myself recognising some of those thoughts I had at my difficult times. Well, Eleanor is here to tell what many people thought of but never can tell aloud. She is here to give hope that everything is going to be completely fine (sorry, couldn’t help it ;))

The story is quite good and is being slowly revealed to the reader, in a way that we learn the truth together with Eleanor. You can guess and imagine things that could’ve happened, but a little twist in the end still gives you that ‘Oh’ moment which I very much enjoyed.

Without any spoilers, the plot is quite realistic, except one thing – vodka (trust me, I am Russian 😉 That part is a bit unbelievable. But I let you decide on that one 🙂

I must say I almost gave up on that book but comments from my facebook book club convinced me to stick to it. I don’t regret now as slowly but strongly Eleanor grew in my eyes and got a little spot in my heart. She is like a small wild animal who was hurt and abandoned and craves for someone’s love so much without even realising it. And it all breaks your heart. As the book progresses and Eleanor’s life is changing, it makes you hopeful, it makes you kinder and it makes you a little bit more happier in your own life. 

My score is 4* out of 5*.