Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Someone by Alice McDermott~★★★

Author: Alice McDermott
Title: Someone
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition; read by Kate Reading
Genre: Fiction

Audiobook Cover: "An ordinary life―its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion―lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott's extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections―of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age―come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott's deft, lyrical voice.
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an 'amadan,' a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott's novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
Marie's first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother's brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents' deaths; the births and lives of Marie's children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn―McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today."

Taryn's Review: I can appreciate what this book was going for: discussing the extraordinary in what many would call an ordinary life. The focus of the book was on Marie, and McDermott shaped her to be really headstrong and, at times, illogical. The book was comprised of meaningful snippets from throughout Marie's life and gave glimpses into the relationships that shaped her. 

I liked the book, but I was never captivated by it. I mostly enjoyed the beginning of the story that focused on Marie's childhood and upbringing, followed by her teenage years and twenties. There was a big gap between young Marie and older Marie as far as what happened to her in the book. For example, a lot of time was spent on the birth of Marie's oldest child and all the complications that arose. Marie was told not have more children, but when the book jumped ahead, Marie had four grown children. How? Why did they decide to risk her life for more children or did they adopt?

I think Marie's brother Gabe was the most interesting character and I would have loved to hear his side of the story. His life was more complicated as he left the priesthood, lived with his mother, enlisted to serve in WWII, took a job in sales, and had a mental breakdown. Marie's children alluded to what they believed Gabe's "issue" was, but again, little discussion beyond that.

It's not a bad book by any means, but I definitely didn't think too much about it outside of listening time. I'd read another McDermott book, but this one really hit the so-so mark for me. It unfortunately never was extraordinary in my opinion, but incredibly ordinary and forgettable.

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