Book Review: Someone, by Alice McDermott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Date Published: September 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
# Of Pages: 232 pgs
Synopsis: An ordinary life--its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion--lived by an ordinary, but unforgettable woman: This is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott's extraordinary seventh novel.
We first glimpse Marie Commeford as a child: a girl in thick glasses observing her pre-Depression world from a Brooklyn stoop. Through her first heartbreak and eventual marriage; her delicate brother's brief stint as a Catholic priest and his emotional breakdown; her career as a funeral director's "consoling angel"; the deaths of her parents and the births of her children--we follow Marie through the changing world of the twentieth century and her Irish-American enclave. Rendered with remarkable empathy and insight, Someone is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived, with passion and heartbreak, a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.
.....For surprising me with it's depth.
You always read something good in a book club.
This was the BOTM for my library book club, and I have to admit, it took me a little while to like this one. I liked how the librarian leading the discussion put it: this is a quiet story. It's extremely character-driven, and there isn't much of a plot. It's also not a linear story; instead, it moves back and forth between one point of time and another. We go from seeing Marie as a 7-year-old, to seeing her as an adult and pregnant, and then go back to seeing her as a teenager. The whole novel has the feeling of someone simply reflecting back on her past, rather than someone who has a plot with a goal in mind.
It was the club discussion that really revealed the depth of this novel for me, and I left the library liking the novel more than I did when the meeting was due to start. There's a theme to this novel that I completely missed while I was reading it, and the discussion kept coming around to it.
Here's the theme, you ready?
There's someone for everyone.
Makes sense, right? The title is "Someone", the people in the book are frequently looking for someone to love or relate to, and there's always someone kind helping out. I really liked how many points in the story frequently tied in to the title, and that's why I bring my rating up from 3.5 to 4 stars.
This book is not for everyone. I can see how someone could find this novel boring or slow, but if you like quiet, character-driven stories, then you should give this book a try. It's worth it.