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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Club Pick: Someone by Alice McDermott

This short novel is a perfectly drawn portrait of an ordinary woman's life. It is all the more extraordinary because it spans seven decades yet takes place in just over 200 pages. Not one word is wasted in McDermott's fiction. Her writing is spare and perfect; every word is meaningful.



Marie Commeford is seven years old when the book begins with her observing her little world from the stoop of her family's home in an Irish American neighborhood in pre-WWII Brooklyn. She is waiting for her father to come home from work. A brief encounter with a young woman on the street hints at the themes to come. Things happen. A young woman suffers a fall. Her best friend's mother dies in childbirth. A bride is left at the altar. Her brother enters the priesthood. We see snapshots of Marie's childhood, her parents and her brother Gabe, her early adult life working as "a consoling angel" for the local funeral home, the excitement of her first love and then heartbreak. "Who's going to love me?" she asks her brother Gabe. "Someone," he replies, "Someone will."  We see her marry a good man, have children and enter old age. All these snippets of her life come together to show a genuine human being. Marie is someone you will recognize.


Someone is a book I didn't want to end. My first thought was that I wanted to go back and re-read it again There were so many words and phrases that I wanted to etch in my mind. Too often I find myself unable to remember a book soon after I read it, but I still remember scenes from an earlier book of Alice McDermott, After This, and I think this book will have the same effect. This is a book that stays with you.
 
--Ellen Bottiny, Tysons-Pimmit Library


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