Award Winning / Literary Fiction

Someone by Alice McDermott

628x471Alice McDermott is known for writing award-winning novels, and Someone is no exception.  It was featured on Publishers Weekly’s list of Best Books for 2013.  It’s an unassuming little book, a gentle read in many ways, but it is so carefully crafted that every word has meaning.  It’s a pseudo-memoir, and the protagonist is Marie Commeford, born and bred in Brooklyn in the 1920s.  We follow her life in a more or less linear fashion until she is an old blind woman.  Her poor eyesight helps define the book, whether it is the skewed perspective of a child or the old woman not wanting to admit her frailty.  Along the way we meet her family, especially her devoted mother, her sensitive brother, and her adoring husband.  We also see the “someone” motif running through the book and realize it doesn’t refer to Marie.  Marie is defined as a “little heathen” by her parents and a “fool” by herself, but  the reader still identifies with her.  (Mothers in particular will identify with her horrific childbirth story.)  My only complaint about the book is how it ends–not at the end of Marie’s life but with an episode from the middle.  I would have appreciated one final glimpse of her surrounded by her children as she tries to envision what the end of her life might be.

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