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Meredith, Alone

There seems to be a new sub-genre emerging in literature, and I’m not sure I’m a fan. More and more books are being published that feature a loveable main character with mild mental illness or social isolation that is magically fixed through the power of community. The trend seems to have begun with A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Bachman, and I don’t fault that masterpiece for the resulting wave. At lease in Bachman’s novel, Ove’s only real issue was the social isolation which comes with old age, and so an injection of community responsibility is a reasonable cure to his ails. However, in Claire Alexander’s forthcoming book, much more heady issues are solved the same way, to a much less satisfying result.

In Meredith, Alone, Meredith has agoraphobia and has not left her home in over four thousand days. She has a supportive best friend, who by implication handles all of her errands, and an estranged mother and sister. The book opens when Meredith is visited by a gentleman from a social services organization that sends potential friends to visit the housebound. He, with a friend Meredith meets on the internet and her ever-faithful cat, manage to pull Meredith out her depression and her home by the end of the book. Frankly, the entire plot is both too grim and too optimistic – an impressive feat. Meredith has gone through horrible trauma and now has a serious mental illness, but the thought of going to a friend’s birthday party practically cures her. I am all for a cozy, fell-good novel, but this one verges on offensive.

The cat, however, has some very cute scenes.


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