It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity, but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless. Ten years later, Eleanor hides in plain sight. She is an average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town: poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had, the only other person who knows her secret, is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless.
Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.
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What does a Wyoming town, a precociously shy girl and a coyote have in common? This surprisingly deep and entertaining book by Johnny Worthen! I ran into Johnny for the first time earlier this year at LTUE where he told me the premise of this book. My interest was piqued, and an advanced copy got in my mailbox somehow ...
Speaking of creepy, that's something we've come to expect from stories with a "paranormal" label, but ELEANOR isn't content with panning out in the conventional paranormal way. It's subtle. Highly subtle storytelling that speaks volumes about actual problems that plague America's youth without resorting to jump scenes. We're talking foster care, rumors, projecting adults, bullies, the possibly of being an actual monster, cancer, and--naturally--adolescent love.
But it's not thrown in our faces all at once. It's a journey through the seasons, carried by comedy, suspense, and ... dare I say tears? What brought this story home for me was the realistic environment created here. The characters are believable, the problems are relevant, and the tie-in of ancient lore and urban legend made this, in my opinion, the most unique portrayal of skin walkers I've read. Believe it!
Eleanor is such a wonderful character by herself, as is the main male character David *grin* and her cancer-stricken foster mom Tabitha. When I wasn't being wowed by descriptive narrative that never failed to paint a clear picture in my head, I was memorized by the organic dialogue that caused equally organic laughs every other page or so. Not to mention a few characters that we just love to hate. And those ending chapters ... they're so freaking clever (no spoilers)!
If you haven't guessed by this glowing review so far, I pretty much ate this book in one sitting. It may just be the best novel I've read this year. ELEANOR explores deep topics, defining what it means to be a monster and what it means to be human. And what it means to choose. Since I like to give away the advanced copies I receive, you can win the chance to read mine by simply leaving a comment!
I'll announce the random winner on July 23rd. See you then!
Does ELEANOR sound like a novel you'd pick up? If you could be any creature, what would it be? Have you ever been to Wyoming?
I'm David, and whatever you do, "don't eat the stew!"