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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,406 Ratings  ·  585 Reviews
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 grow ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Crown (first published June 27th 2014)
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Abby Goldsmith It can be read by teenagers without any offense. But it has more depth and heavy themes than what most people consider to be YA.

Community Reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

This book started out so deep and sad. I could feel each person's depression and grief. It was real and it was hard.

The story goes goes through different times. The years jump ahead to each person in the family and it all comes back around in the end.

We start out with Eleanor, she has a husband named Hob and a little girl named Agnes. Eleanor fights depression and other things because she was swimming her way into the Olympics but she got pregnant and neve
Edward Lorn
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Edward by: Crown Publishing
Shelves: b4b, hardcover
Every once in awhile, a book will come along that changes how I feel about the fiction I consume. Raises the bar, as it were. Eleanor is one of those books that makes me consider how I've rated books in the past. Based on how much I loved this book, I've obviously rated some books five stars when they haven't deserved them. Because this one is now high on my list of the best novels I've had the pleasure of reading. Definitely it is in my top ten.

Eleanor takes a detailed and unflinching look at
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The fantastical elements of this novel don't really start until around page 80, but really they are what make it special. Up until then, it was more of a novel of a family and the loss of a child, something I felt I had read, but then it morphs and shifts into a much more engaging story of the afterlife and twin connections, grief and healing, and the power of dreams.

The writing of these other worlds, other presences, is descriptive and beautiful. The real world is logically sad and difficult f
Easily among the best books I'll read this year, if not #1. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time to come, and it'll be difficult to move on to something else.

This is the story of a young lady, Eleanor, that lived through the tragedy of the death of her twin several years earlier, her parents' reactions and how they fell into their own worlds of mourning and loss, and the impact it has on Eleanor. A magical story of loss, recovery, and ultimately, love regained.

Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-ebook
Love the cover!

No spoilers here....This book starts out sad and emotional after terrible tragedies befall the family. Then it starts to get a little confusing as not all of the information you need to know is revealed right away. As the story progresses, it does unfold through the main characters and jumps back and forth in time.

This novel is not particularly gripping but surreal, complex and well written. It is like nothing I've ever read but did remind me a bit of the movie What Dreams May Co
“Shortness of breath?” the doctor had asked her. “Muscle tension? Mental distraction?”
She looked down at her hands and nodded. Yes, to each of those things. Hearing them described so simply should have robbed them of their power, she thought; they were only words. But instead, she felt as if she should defend them. No, she would say. It’s so much more. They’re so much bigger than just those words.

Eleanor is the story of two women with the same name, related but a generation apart.

Eleanor, the fi
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I have had a very contentious relationship with this book over the past two days. One minute I loved it and the next minute I wanted to throw it across the room. Love, throw, repeat.

I found the characterization to be superb and that is a very important element to me. Gurley managed to put me right there inside Eleanor's heart and mind. She’s brave and strong and living a life that no child should ever have to, and at the same time she’s this vulnerable young girl at the mercy of something far b
Amy | shoutame
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
This was such a wonderful novel, mystical and heart-wrenching - a really pleasant surprise.

This story is told through the eyes of three generations of women. Firstly we see Eleanor as she struggles with married life and the knowledge of another child on the way. We then skip ahead in time to Agnes, the daughter of Eleanor as she fights depression with alcohol after the death of one of her own children. And lastly we follow Agnes's remaining daughter (also named Eleanor) as she tries to live with
Timothy Ward
Eleanor is a tough book to rate on a star level. The writing is eloquent and emotionally staggering. His world is profoundly imaginative and the scope of the story quite impressive to see unfold. The story begins with a wife and mother who is depressed about how her dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer had to die when she became a mother. This struggle between personal dreams and family hit me personally, and is one of many instances where I applaud Mr. Gurley for his ability to evoke emotional ...more
Raeden Zen
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really well thought-out and fascinating literary novel touching on complex subjects including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, alcoholism, and grief. It's a story you'll think about for days after you finish with an ending that can be interpreted in many different ways.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleanor Witt's life and family will begin to implode when she is six. Firstly Eleanor will lose her best friend and identical twin Esmerelda in a tragic accident. For Eleanor's mother Agnes this is a double blow after the mysterious disappearance of her mother two decades earlier after going swimming on a moonless night at Anchor Bend. With Eleanor the only reminder to the past, her mother grows to despise her and slowly falls apart.

Years later and now in her teens, Eleanor can see the devastati
Liz Barnsley
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adored this. I'm due to review for the blog tour so will copy that here then. But this was wonderful. Different and wonderful.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to have a nearly impossible time reviewing this one. This book defies genre to give a heartbreaking look at the effects of grief through generations. The writing was beautiful - able to be both ethereal and harsh. It's definitely one I'll continue to think about for some time after finishing.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked the first 70 or so pages of this story of grief suffered by three successive generations of a family. The grief was well-written, and it was easy to see how decisions made in one generation could affect the following generations.
Then the author brought in the fantastical elements, and I was okay with that, even enjoyed them at first. But by page 180 all I could think was, I get the point! I understand part of the puzzle of the fantastic stuff!
The story moves back and forth between chara
I liked the premises (of course. It's my name, I had a twin in utero, my family's pretty messed up... etc), but meh

Very bleak setting, bickering, PTSD, absence of any kind of thought on oneself, life, family... Absence of joy, caring, love. Ok.
Then it gets worse. The accident scene is foreshadowed to an inch of its life.
Then a kid who buys way too much into Karpman's triangle (victim, savior, persecutor scenario) punishes one parent while masochistically supporting the other one who symbolicall
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
Jason Gurley's writing is excellent, but this book only halfway worked for me. I loved the parts about Eleanor and her family's history, and all the ways that their individual suffering intertwined and manifested throughout the generations. Unfortunately, too much of the book instead focused on the Rift and the dream worlds, which I found tedious. While the details of the alternate worlds clicked into predictable place near the end, nearly four hundred pages is much too long to spend dragging th ...more
Stephanie (Reading is Better With Cupcakes)

I had to put this book down when I first started it. Was it because it was bad? No, no not at all. It is because I had read so many emotionally hard hitting books in a row that I couldn't do another one. It would have just messed with me too badly.

I did pick it up after reading something else much less serious. And it was a good call. By doing that I was able to fully enjoy this book for what it is - a book that is going to hit you hard in your emotional gut.

This book is kind of hard to explain.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Time is a river, and it flows in a circle.

A beautifully written and heartbreaking novel about a family ripped apart by grief. It also deals with the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. I enjoyed many parts of this story, but by the end, this magical realism tale got a little too fantastic for me.

Esmerelda’s death split their family as finely as an atom, and the resulting detonation blinded them all.

1985: Six-year-old Eleanor's family is destroyed when her twin sister Esm
Darque  Dreamer
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-reads
Eleanor is powerful and emotionally raw. Jason Gurley delivers a story that is both heartbreaking and thought provoking all at once. This one is full of deep symbolism and imagery, and will take you on a journey of sadness and anger, entwined in a fantasy world.

The Plot: Eleanor begins in the year 1962 centered around Eleanor, her husband Hob, and her daughter Agnes. We witness, what we know in this day and age, to be depression in Eleanor. In 1963 Eleanor goes for a swim in the ocean, never to
Deirdre Gould
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a nasty little secret that each parent has, but thinks is theirs alone. The world wants us to believe that normal people never feel ambivalent about parenthood. That mixture of regret and joy, of resentment and overwhelming love. And above all the certainty that no matter how hard you try, you'll never be good enough. Or the terror that no amount of love will be able to cover your deficiencies. We don't talk about it. But Eleanor does.

Ostensibly, it's the story of a young girl who is ov
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who can read. All of them.

This is one of those books that it's easier to review by writing about what it is not, than what it is.

It's not Neil Gaiman (but it's almost that good), it's not typically YA (despite the teenage protagonists), it's not easily categorised (it's somewhere between metaphysics, magic and uhh, time travel, along with a really vivid depiction of a family failing to deal with grief and completely falling apart).

And it is very, very, very good.

If I  had access to physical copies of this boo

Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarything
Identical twins, Eleanor and Esmerelda, are torn apart, one taken from the world we know and one left to pick up the pieces. Their family is torn apart with grief. But that grief may have started in their family long before this tragedy. This is a deep look at the healing of a damaged family in what has to be one of the most unique ways I’ve ever read. It will open your eyes to the possibility of realities other than we are aware of.

This is a fantasy with quite a unique take on the theories of s
Bridgit Morgan
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first picked up Eleanorby Jason Gurley: it was listed as Adult Literary Fiction, yet had sci-fi and fantastical elements. I wasn’t very confident that these genres could mix well together.

But they do.

Eleanor was simply beautifully crafted: the writing, the characters, and especially the themes. It was an excellent, honest portrayal of grief, motherhood, mental illness, and the power of second chances. The concept was also very well-done and extremely un
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gurley's new novel combines family tragedy with magical realism to create a beautiful and haunting page turner of a story.
Eleanor loses her twin sister in a horrible accident that leaves her family in tatters. Left to take care of herself and her grief stricken mother strange things start happening to Eleanor that she can't understand or explain. These events will cause a ripple effect for generations of her family. It is an engrossing fantastical novel about grief and the choices we make and th
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This is an excellent book about how one event can change everything. It took me a while because I kept hitting sad parts and I had to put it down. It is also fantasy and some of the settings are inside dreams. It's about how Agnes' mother disappeared when she was a small child and how everything spiraled out of control from that point forward. How do you help someone that has never been happy? Someone that has been sad since before you were ever born? I don't want to give anything away. You'll j ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
„Eleanor“ erzählt die Geschichte einer Familie über drei Generationen hinweg und besticht vor allem durch fantastische, fast schon magische Elemente. Während die ersten 80 Seiten noch sehr real sind und es vor allem um Trauer, Depression und Wut der Protagonistinnen geht, flechtet der Autor von dort an magische Elemente in die Geschichte, was eigentlich ja genau mein Ding ist. Trotzdem hatte ich einige Schwierigkeiten, das Buch für mich richtig einzuordnen und ich habe lange darüber nachgedacht, ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I cover judged this book. The water and the way Eleanor scrawls across the cover were selling points for me, but I didn’t understand the girl on the cover.

Needless to say, this book was more than I thought. There is definitely more than meets the eye.

There’s one important – actually two – details that are left out of the synopsis. The story is about a young girl named Eleanor, but the story really starts with her namesake, her grandmother Eleanor.

Grandmother Eleanor gave up everything – the Olym
Leslie Lindsay
Dec 24, 2015 rated it liked it
A highly unusual, yet beautiful read by emerging author Jason Gurley exploring death, grief, second chances, and ultimately...we think: hope.

What comes across on the back jacket is a family drama through the eyes of a young girl--Eleanor. It's an explosive dive (quite literally) into the watery torrents that is our family. They are all grieving, for various reasons and it isn't just a death we're talking about here. But then the back jacket becomes a bit waterlogged, at least for me. We're thru
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Time is a river, and it flows in a circle. I love you."

This was a book that I picked up on a whim and boy am I glad I did. Eleanor written by Jason Gurley is quite simply an amazing read. Even though it contains fantasy elements, categorizing this novel as just fantasy would be a mistake. If anything this book is about grief and the sadness and depression that can accompany it. It deals with loss in a very interesting way and although it seems a little generic at first, it transforms into somet
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not a book to read if you are looking for a fun, fluffy story. This novel is deep, devastating, and depressing. The characters are wonderfully developed, and the reader can feel the emotions and devastation behind both girls. The story actually made me cry. Throughout the entire book, the writing was very well crafted, and I loved the two different time lines that we got to see the different characters in. It reminded me of one of my favorite books Everything I Never Told You by Celeste ...more
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Jason Gurley's bestselling self-published novel, Eleanor, was acquired by Crown Publishing and reissued in 2016. He's the author of Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and other novels, among them Awake in the World, due in 2019 from Roaring Brook Press. He lives and writes in Scappoose, Oregon.
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“Most souls wait for a very long time. In the end, the peace they seek is usually within themselves, not within the confines of the world they left.” 7 likes
“There should be someone in the world who loves you despite you,” she whispers to her mother.” 6 likes
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