Meredith, Alone

Grand Central. Nov. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781538709948. $28. F
DEBUT Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her Glasgow home in 1,214 days. She’s not under quarantine; she’s not bedridden. She has plenty to do: she works remotely, writes full-time, keeps herself and her house in tip-top shape, enjoys the companionship of her vocal cat, Fred, and especially likes working tricky jigsaw puzzles. Her best friend Sadie comes to visit with her two children, and Meredith relies on her grocery deliveryman to be punctual. Readers meet Meredith when a new visitor enters her life —Tom, from the Holding Hands befriending charity. Through Tom’s visits, Alexander slowly reveals why Meredith has retreated from the outside world. Meredith makes a friend from an online support group, and these relationships help her to confront her stasis. When she’s ready, she has a troubled family dynamic and trauma to handle.
VERDICT In a world contending with the mental health fallout from COVID, Meredith is immediately relatable. Executed with care, humor, and grace, this novel pokes at the bubble of solitude to show each of us that suffering has a sense of community and with that, the prospect of optimism.
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