“Who’s going to love me?” Marie asks her brother Gabe in the hours after her first heartbreak. The girl has seen sad times already in her 1930s Brooklyn neighborhood: a girl who tumbles down a set of stairs to her death, a blind man left to umpire ball games for the neighborhood boys. But as her first love leaves her behind, Marie is confronted for the first time with the sorrow of an anonymous, unspectacular existence.
As Alice McDermott’s Someone skips across Marie’s life, the reader peers into such intimate moments as her first kiss, her first boyfriend, her first day working at a funeral home, the first time she meets her husband in the bedroom—moments that shape Marie into the woman she will become. The nonlinear story unfolds much like life itself: rambling in different directions, not always making it clear where you’re headed or why you’re along for the ride.
The Brooklyn neighborhood is nearly as much a character in Marie’s life as are its inhabitants. As a young woman, she refuses to even seek work outside of its boundaries. But as the neighborhood falls into disrepair, Gabe proves to be the child who is reluctant to leave.
McDermott is a three-time Pulitzer finalist and winner of a National Book Award. This, her first novel in seven years, is sure to be a welcome escape for those who have missed her lyrical voice and fine attention to detail. Marie and Gabe’s relationship echoes the closeness, contentiousness and theological discussions of the namesake siblings in J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Much like those in that beloved novel, McDermott’s characters are more concerned with the daily, ordinary act of living. The result is a thoughtful, heartfelt tale that prompts the reader to take a closer look at his or her own days.