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Book Review: Eleanor: A Novel By Jason Gurley
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Eleanor: A Novel
Hardcover | Kindle
Written by Jason Gurley
Crown Publishing
Release date: January 12th, 2016

Eleanor has always felt drawn to the sea. When she was a girl, she swam competitively. But then she fell in love, got married, and had a baby… and that was enough for a while. Until she started feeling like she was only alive when she swam in the sea. Her husband would take her. He was very understanding. Then one day she went to the sea and never came back.

But this story is not about that Eleanor.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley is really about her granddaughter, Eleanor (whom she would obviously never meet), a twin whose sister is ripped from her through death at a young age, and subsequently grows up in a family of sorrow and rage.

So the twinless twin continues on through the years, with a now alcoholic mother who blames her, and a sporadically absent father. Her only solace is her friend Jack, a kindred spirit. Then strange things starts to happen. Doorways pull Eleanor to other worlds, some beautiful and some scary (and some nothing that have characters of their own as well) and back again, losing time when she returns. If she doesn’t figure out what’s going on and how to control it, her loved ones will be in even more pain than ever before.

The story is compellingly tragic – its characters all lost from loss, anger erupting from a seemingly endless reservoir. And in between is a supernatural rift of nothing, which may hold the key to soothing all the hurt. Eleanor travels to this nothing and to dream realms as well, as she finds meaning and purpose to it all. The most fascinating part is the relationship between Eleanor and her mother Agnes. While I hated Agnes for her addiction and treatment of her daughter, at the same time, I understood how heartbreak could drive someone there. This book is a definite page turner, filled with the unexpected. At first, the different worlds confused me, but I kept going for the payoff. I was not disappointed. Gurley weaved the connections very well, and still managed to surprise me with the ending.

I can tell a book is really good if I get annoyed at interruptions, and this was definitely that book. I highly recommend it.

Book synopsis:

Eleanor and Esmerelda are identical twins with a secret language all their own, inseparable until a terrible accident claims Esme’s life. Eleanor’s family is left in tatters: her mother retreats inward, seeking comfort in bottles; her father reluctantly abandons ship. Eleanor is forced to grow up more quickly than a child should, and becomes the target of her mother’s growing rage.

Years pass, and Eleanor’s painful reality begins to unravel in strange ways. The first time it happens, she walks through a school doorway, and finds herself in a cornfield, beneath wide blue skies. When she stumbles back into her own world, time has flown by without her. Again and again, against her will, she falls out of her world and into other, stranger ones, leaving behind empty rooms and worried loved ones.

One fateful day, Eleanor leaps from a cliff and is torn from her world altogether. She meets a mysterious stranger, Mea, who reveals to Eleanor the weight of her family’s loss. To save her broken parents, and rescue herself, Eleanor must learn how deep the well of her mother’s grief and her father’s heartbreak truly goes. Esmerelda’s death was not the only tragic loss in her family’s fragmented history, and unless Eleanor can master her strange new abilities, it may not be the last.

Eleanor Jason Gurley Cover

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