‘Meredith, alone’ – Claire Alexander

Our introduction to Meredith is very matter-of-fact and it’s almost comical how she tells us it’s been over 1,000 days since she left her home. We learn she has a cat called Fred, enjoys jigsaws and has a best friend (Sophie) who comes to check she hasn’t died and been eaten by her cat! However, someone willingly becoming a social recluse has – in all likelihood – experienced a traumatic event, and it doesn’t take us long to see these signs in Meredith.

The book focuses on Meredith making the best of her very narrow life. Interspersed with details of her online friendship are details of her developing friendship with Tom, part of a charity group that befriends people in isolation, and details about her brief interactions with her sister and mother. Through the course of these interactions, and the flashback memories of her past, we come to learn more about Meredith and how she came to be in this situation.

While there is not a lot of action in the plot, we’re given a clear picture of Meredith and her experience. As we grow to learn exactly what happened to her I feel it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her, and anger on her behalf.

The details of Meredith’s story are not easy to read. She’s a character who becomes increasingly self-aware, and seeing just how those who should have been helping her treated her was challenging. It’s a fairly bleak story, told with love and I can’t help but feel Meredith will be a name we’re hearing a lot of next year when she ventures into the open.

Huge thanks to NetGalley for allowing me into Meredith’s world early. It was a true experience.