Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander
Pub date: 1 Nov 2022 from Grand Central Publishing
I get most of my ARCs from NetGalley. And while many times I will go there looking for a specific book to request, mostly I tend to just surf through all of the available titles and see what catches my eye. It might be the title, or the cover design, and then I’ll read through the description. If I think I’ll like it, I request it and then forget about it until the approval comes in. At that point I’ll add it to my ARC calendar and then forget it again until it comes up next in the rotation. But here’s the part I love the most: by this point I have pretty much no memory of the plot of the book at all. All I know is that at some point I liked the premise enough to request it. Could I read the blurb and refresh my memory? I could, but I usually don’t. Why? Because that would spoil the supreme joy I get by going into a book completely blind. I have no idea who these characters are, not even an inkling of where the plot will take me. And that is my absolute favorite way to read a book.
This is exactly what happened with Claire Alexander’s Meredith, Alone. I had no idea what the upcoming pages would show me, so I was just along for the ride. And it was a beautiful, heart-searing ride. We travel to Glasgow, Scotland (bucket list trip for me), to meet the titular Meredith, who has not set foot outside her home for 1,214 days. She works remotely for her job, orders everything she needs online, and seems quite content with her life as it is. She has Fred, her cat, to keep her company, and her jigsaw puzzles to occupy her time. But the question we are asking ourselves right from the start is…WHY? Why has she shuttered her life behind her front door? The answer unfurls for us gradually, and will rip your heart right to pieces.
But bit by bit, with the help of old friends and new, Meredith begins to open that door to the outside world. Her journey is emotional and vulnerable and I was right there cheering her on. I appreciated the fact that we are allowed to see Meredith stumble along the way. The process of healing from her trauma is intense and her progress in getting back to the outside world reflects that. The characters in this book are wonderfully developed, even the ones that maybe you don’t want to really know about. And if you think you’ve figured out how this story will end, you’re probably be wrong, but you’ll agree that the ending we get is perfect. The story is told through multiple stages in Meredith’s life; her childhood growing up with her older sister and their neglectful mother; her adult life before she closed herself off from the world; and the present, as we get a running account of the number of days it has been since she left the confines of her house. I’m not gonna lie, the jumping around got a bit confusing at times. The flashback chapters are titled with the year, but they are not presented in a linear order. The best strategy I found was to remember what year Meredith was born and then do some quick math at the beginning of each of those chapters to keep track of where we are in her life. But that is really my only nit to pick with this book. This is the first of Alexander’s books that I have read, but I will definitely be checking out some of her other work. I highly recommend this beautiful story!
Thank you to NetGalley and to Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.