Someone- Alice McDermott

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The Home Book Club is back after a brief hiatus with Alice McDermott’s quiet and beautiful novel, Someone. Returning from  her own seven-year hiatus, McDermott tells the story of Marie, a girl growing up in Brooklyn to Irish parents, later a woman with a family of her own on Long Island, through the lens of the everyday. Beginning with the death of a young girl on Marie’s street, the novel softly begins the job of building a life. Marie experiences heartbreak, love and marriage, motherhood, and aging, of herself and her family. Without fanfare and including the mundane with the life-changing, Someone captures the reader from the very first sentence.

McDermott is no stranger to works fused with delicious description of the seemingly common. In an interview with PBS Newshour’s Jeffrey Brown, McDermott expressed the importance of language in her writing.

We are surrounded by story. Story is very accessible to us, more so than ever. But what I think literary fiction does is raise the level of the sentence to be as important as the story the sentence tells. The rhythm, the beauty, the music of it is as important as character or plot.

Featured in The New York Times Sunday Book ReviewSomeone is a treasure. A small and delicate treasure full of the exquisite, sometimes surprising, beauty and pain that makes up an ordinary life.

Discussion Questions for Someone:

– How does Marie’s internal observation differ from what she communicates to the world?

– What does the novel say about family and community?– What roles do Marie’s mother and father play in her life? How does their perspectives influence hers?

– Each passage seems to offer a different view of Marie: daughter in a power-struggle with her mother over baking bread, young woman at her first job, sister offering help to a hurting brother. What does that say about the experiences that we get in life?

McDermott’s other works include Charming BillyAfter ThisThat Night, and others. They have been awarded the National Book Award, finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and have been featured in literary magazines and newspapers.

Watch the PBS Newshour interview here.

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