Under normal circumstances — normal meaning not having just finished one of the worst books I’ve ever read — I probably wouldn’t love Eleanor as much as I do. I probably would be quite disturbed and saddened by the story, but I was just so happy to be reading something other than The Witches that I was thoroughly entertained and not at all weirded out.
Eleanor starts off with the story of a mom, named Eleanor, in the 60s seeming quite unhappy with her position in life, and sort of disappearing off the face of the earth. We then jump to the 80s and Eleanor’s daughter, Agnes, who was five when her mom disappeared, is having quite similar thoughts and tendencies about being mom to twin girls Esmeralda and Eleanor. One day she’s trying to get them out the door to pick up her husband/their father Paul from the airport, and they get into a horrible car accident that kills Esmeralda. We jump again to the mid-90s when Eleanor is a teenager taking care of a severely depressed and alcoholic Agnes, recently divorced from Paul, when all of a sudden some very strange things start to happen…
Enter Mea, a character we don’t really understand that well but who is obviously responsible for all the strange things happening to Eleanor. These strange things are Eleanor jumping through time and disappearing from the regular world and reappearing in crazy dream worlds, then returning to the regular world a few hours later. Each time this happens has more and more severe consequences, such as Eleanor getting physically harmed and at one point presumed dead because she’s gone for two whole years when to her it only seemed like a few minutes. Finally she figures out what’s been happening to her, largely due to Mea’s sort-of explanations, and she begins to alter time and reality to fix her very damaged family.
Although I love time travel stories, I take issue with them because they presume that things are constantly happening at all times over and over again, meaning there are zillions of realities happening at any given moment, which is kind of a mind F if you think about it too hard. Like I said before, I really loved reading this book, but I don’t know that I would have loved it as much had I read it at any other time in my book-reading life.