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Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander

We really enjoyed this book. We all found it well written and appreciated that it tackled a difficult subject in a realistic way without being gloomy.  We appreciated the way it gave a different depiction of agoraphobia.  Perhaps stereotypically, it might be assumed a sufferer would be a bit of a hoarder,  live in a murky environment, be very withdrawn from social contact, but Meredith seemed very house proud, able to hold down a job, very functional and proactive (eg. had devised own fitness regime on stairs).  In fact, we realised how easy it might be to not leave the house with shopping deliveries etc. 

Considering not much was happening or revealed in the first part of the book, it was still compelling reading. We liked the way that the story unfolded, that you only found out the cause of Meredith’s suffering half way through the story.  This enabled the reader to see Meredith as an individual, and appreciate the illness as a distinct entity, before the back story.  We really liked her relationships with her friends; they accepted her as she was and didn’t try and get her to ‘snap out of if’ but really encouraged every sign of progress.  We also enjoyed the description of her (literal) steps towards progress and found ourselves willing her on.

It was a good ending.  We all agreed that we were glad that she didn’t end up with Tom as that would have been far too twee.  

The only small negative was that the book was difficult to place; it was difficult to imagine the context –  language didn’t root it in Scotland, no dialect.  But we discussed that maybe this was deliberate and perhaps a big sense of place is not needed, when the main character is restricted to her house. 

It’s a hopeful, warm book but please be aware that it does deal with difficult issues including mental health, sexual assault, domestic abuse, self-harm, and dysfunctional families.

Overal score: 8.6

Range: 8 – 9

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