Book Reviews

One Step At A Time: Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

It’s already time for the final review of the year!

➡️ Did I like the book?

I liked most of it, let’s say 80%!

➡️ Did I enjoy reading it?

The writing was really good, and spot-on when it came to expressing feelings and moments that I’d be unable to describe. The characters were endearing (most of them, at least!) and I really wanted to get to know them. It was a great pick to read on Christmas Day.

➡️ What did I feel?

Full disclosure: I live with a general anxiety disorder, bouts of depression, and agoraphobia, therefore I give myself permission to express my opinion on how those subjects are dealt with in this book.

I was a bit apprehensive at first. We’ve seen agoraphobia enter the book world with a big A and it is easy to miss the point, generalize, or cure it with love.

Meredith, Alone alternates between chapters from the past and the present. The present gets a full date and the number of days Meredith has not left her house. I don’t recall the number of days I stayed home, but I felt it was a nice touch to make readers understand how time goes, whether you have a life outside your house or not. We do have Mondays, Tuesdays, etc, too. All of them. We often have a routine also. And before you know it weeks go by. I felt it was essential to make this point.

The exploration of Meredith’s trauma happens gradually, as her world begins to expand again. From crumbles to big chocolate chips. Another good cookie for the author.

Several times during the novel, Meredith asks for help, and this is another important detail. I’ve heard “she doesn’t even want to get better” so many times. Getting a therapist is not easy, for so many reasons. Doing the “homework” is tiring beyond measure. You take one step forward, a dozen steps back. Most people with mental illness climb hundreds of invisible steps you will never know about. I loved that we could follow Meredith as she gives herself permission to be helped, hope, and find her way.

The supporting characters also come with their baggage, their issues, their lives, and it creates a realistic background in which everyone is fighting their demons while finding moments to treasure.

I was very happy to see friendship get such an important role in this novel, as friendships are what saved me over and over.

🚨 My only niggle is with a part towards the end of the story. I can’t get into details without spoiling you so I’ll just say you don’t jump from walking up and down a street to taking a bus to the center of town without a lot more of exposure (exposure being one of the tools used to help people with agoraphobia. By slowly facing what you are afraid of and lengthening the time and distance you spend outside, you get exposed until your body/mind stop triggering the fight or flight response or panic attacks) I was disappointed by this clap of the finger and everything is possible, but relieved I didn’t get a “love can cure anything” recipe.

➡️ How would I describe it?

Full of hope, beautifully written.

➡️ Anything else to add?

I am sharing a quote that really resonated with me.

“You are not your environment, Mer. Not leaving your house might affect your life in a million different ways, but it doesn’t change the person you are – not at your core. It doesn’t at all change how I feel about you.”

Verdict: 3,5 ⭐️ A good read

You can get a copy here


4 thoughts on “One Step At A Time: Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander”

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