Fiction

Meredith, Alone, by Claire Alexander

I have a real admiration for characters who are still kind to others despite their own immense challenges. Let’s be honest–that is NOT easy. But Meredith Maggs of Glasgow, Scotland is a rare one.

There are plenty of us who wish we could stay home all the time–work from home, shop exclusively from home, etc. But there is staying home by choice and there is staying home because to leave would induce crippling anxiety and panic attacks. Sadly, Meredith is in the second group. She hasn’t left her house in over three years. Introverts might say, “She’s so lucky.” But Meredith isn’t lucky. She’s trapped by years of trauma and emotional abuse, culminating in one horrific incident. At the moment when Meredith needed support the most, it wasn’t there.

So here she is, weeks from her fortieth birthday, keeping her routine, working remotely to pay the bills, but sometimes still sinking into that dark place that reminds her why her life differs from others. Is Meredith bitter? Well, yes. Does she take it out on others? Surprisingly, no. And, fortunately, there are “others.” Sadie, Meredith’s best friend from her university days, a freckle-faced neighbor boy who mows the lawn, an online girlfriend in her mental health group, and now Tom. Tom is her “weekly look in friend,” arranged by the health service to make sure Meredith is still alive and, in her words, “hasn’t been eaten by her cat.”

Meredith, Alone delves into some deep issues regarding mental health problems, emotional and sexual abuse, toxic parents, and even suicide. But, personally, I think it is a very important book. Anyone who has gone through these things will never forget them, but healing can happen. As Meredith’s therapist says, “Abuse has no hierarchy.” What you or I or anyone else has gone through isn’t a contest to see whose life has been the hardest. Our experiences are our own and should be respected and always validated and believed.

Meredith’s trauma may have chipped away at her self confidence, but she is strong in ways she doesn’t even realize. She is a hero in her own right, exemplifying effort and triumph in how she conducts herself and treats others. I think many readers would be helped by this book. Between the events from Meredith’s past and her own determination to move forward, a lot of us will see ourselves in her in one way or another. I highly recommend it.

9.5/10 Stars

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