Eleanor by Jason Gurley

April 10, 2016
Eleanor, Jason Gurley, BloggingforBooks, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Crown (January 14, 2016)
Format Read: Hardcover (384 pages)
Genre: Magical Realism/ Young Adult/ Time Travel
Series: Standalone
Source: Blogging for Books
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.


This was a sad and beautiful glimpse into a family's journey of healing. I was not expecting such a heart wrenching story.  The beginning of the book focuses on Eleanor and how she deals with parents who have been forever changed by her sisters death. While I became emotionally connected with the characters, for the first third of the book, the slow pacing bored me at times. The characters were realistic and flawed. The writing is fantastic and every word is purposefully placed, which makes sense  . The writing allowed me to push through the lulls and enjoy the rest of a mind altering story. Once I got past the first third of the book, I was engaged and excited to see the rest of the story unfold.
"Time is a river,  and it flows in a circle."
Dealing with grief is different for everyone, but the author did not shy away from the awful ways that it can eat at a person from the inside out. The magical realism worked well, although you don't get all the reasons why it's happening until later in the book. There was some well timed romance that didn't seemed forced.  Every conversation and interaction leads up to and plays a part in the books climax. When things started to come together, I was finally let in on the clues the author was dropping.
"She feels like a woman who has lived through the Depression, a woman who has watched her babies die, who is beaten down by circumstances and who succumbs to it, who doesn't fight back, because why fight back?"
Making me feel, Eleanor, Jason Gurley, Book Review, InToriLex

This book deals with serious issues, but still leaves the reader hopeful with a satisfying ending. The books mystery and fantasy elements helped elevate the story of  Eleanor and her family to a wonderful place. The book manages to incorporate time travel, other realms, and human self destruction without becoming confusing. Reading this was an experience, and I look forward to reading more books by this author. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy young adult, and magical realism in a book that is worth more than the sum of its parts.

I received this book from BloggingforBooks in exchange for an honest review.


Jason Gurley is the author of Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and other novels and stories. His bestselling self-published novel Eleanor is forthcoming from Crown Publishing in 2016. His work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine and numerous anthologies. He lives and writes in Oregon.

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