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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  16,341 ratings  ·  2,058 reviews
An ordinary life - its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion - lived by an ordinary woman: This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived, a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.

An ordinary life - its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion - live
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Anne Brown I think it’s called Someone because it’s the story of an ordinary life. It’s not called Anyone because this ordinary life is made personal by telling…moreI think it’s called Someone because it’s the story of an ordinary life. It’s not called Anyone because this ordinary life is made personal by telling it to us.(less)

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3.76  · 
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 ·  16,341 ratings  ·  2,058 reviews

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Robert Blumenthal
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I remember conversations with the school librarian at the elementary school where I first taught. He spoke fondly of older children's books, such as Blueberries for Sal or The Story of Ping. He called these children's books "Quiet stories." That is how I think of the novel Someone by Alice McDermott. It is not a novel where a lot of exciting things happen. It reminds me of the short stories The Dubliners by James Joyce. The prose is exquisite and the writing is so self-assured. The novel is rela ...more
Martie Nees Record
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Someone” by Alice McDermott

I have been a book lover/book junkie for decades. Still it is a first for me to finish the last word on the last page and then immediately go back to the first page and re-read the whole book again. The author, Alice McDermott, flawless writing explains why she has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize. McDermott casts a wide net with this novel; this is a story about nothing and everything, a human life. Though the story may seem mundane at first, its lif
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Who's going to love me?" I said.
The brim of his hat cast his eyes in shadow. Behind him, the park teemed with strangers.
"Someone," he told me. "Someone will."

Waiting, hovering over the concrete stoop, eyes cast in expectation towards the throng of people on that heated sidewalk, young Marie Commeford looks longingly for a glimpse of her father. The familiar tilt of the hat, the jaunt of his walk. Waiting.....

Marie's story is filled with that waiting. Perched in corners, standing in shadows, Mar
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
From a purely intellectual standpoint, I understand and even appreciate (I think) what McDermott is trying to do. She's writing about a woman, and an unbeautiful one, and her relationship with her own body throughout her life. The novel's main character is probably born in the 1930s(?) and we get glimpses into key moments of her life--important moments in her childhood, the first time she falls in love, her first real job, illnesses, her wedding day, the birth of her first child--all these puzzl ...more
Terry Everett
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel moves me very much with its insights into sister-brother relations and its time shifts based on a psychological order rather than a chronological one. I prefer to think the narrator saved her brother's life, as she only wonders if perhaps she did.
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have come to realize after many, many years of reading , that sometimes the best books... the ones that stay with you the longest... are the ones that seemingly, on the surface , don't seem to be about anything at all. Someone by Alice McDermott is one of those books for me.

This story begins on a Brooklyn stoop in the pre-Depression years, where Marie, a little girl about seven years old awaits her father's return from work. The story is told in Marie's voice and takes the reader from the pres
Diane Barnes
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When Alice McDermott describes a room, you are standing in the middle of it. When she describes a character, that person is standing in the room with you, and when she paints a scene with dialogue and movement, you feel the shock, or pain, or elation, or boredom, of the scene as though you are living through it yourself.

In fact, maybe you have lived through it yourself, because her specialty is in describing ordinary lives, unremarkable people going about the daily business of just getting along
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Someone" is a quiet novel, like a black and white movie for old souls. I adored the book, the author's melodic prose and the way her every day characters related to each other in an unspoken way through a knowingness and acceptance of each other, and their faith in their respectful relationships with each other. Life is, after all, one leap of faith after another. Some successful, and some not, but we all hope for the best, and we all hope to have a relationship with a special "Someone." Enjoy! ...more
Angela M
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The writing is just so perfect that you feel as though you are there sitting on the stoop with 7 year old Marie waiting for her father to come home from work. As Marie's narrative seems to seamlessly glide between times in her life , you can see it and feel it - all of the events in this simple , ordinary life she leads . This book is filled with emotion and Alice McDermott makes you care about everything that happens to Marie. Reading this reminded me of her other wonderful books , Charming Bil ...more
Barbara Backus
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An exquisite novel of an "unremarkable woman's unforgettable life." Recollecting details from when she was seven-years-old sitting on the stoop of her Brooklyn home to when she's an old woman, Marie Comerford reminds us of how the ordinary people who fill our youth, adolescence and adulthood impact our ordinary existence.

Alice McDermott's novel might appear simplistic at first glance, but it is filled with deep understanding as she turns from one era to the next to portray Marie. Having lived th
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
What is remarkable about this novel is how Alice McDermott is able to create seven fully-realized decades in the life of Marie Commeford in just over 200 pages. When the novel opens, we met a 7-year-old Marie sitting on her front stoop and developing those "easy bonds" with the other Irish immigrants in her Brooklyn neighborhood. We laugh when she sabotages the soda bread so that her mother will be reluctant to seek her help in the kitchen in the future. We stand in the chill as she waits for he ...more
Beautifully written ~ slower pacing, detailed descriptions which pull you into each setting. It took me longer to get into Marie's character, but once I did, I was eager to read further. The description of her experience with childbirth was extremely harrowing! I flew through that chapter. The ending was disappointing for me...after finally becoming invested in the main characters, I felt that the book might be going somewhere. But, it fell flat. Maybe that was the point of the book to seem like ...more
Gary  the Bookworm
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing

"It was the first light my poor eyes ever knew. Recalling it, I sometimes wonder if all the faith and all the fancy, all the fear, the speculation, all the wild imaginings that go into the study of heaven and hell, don’t shortchange, after all, that other, earlier uncertainty: the darkness before the slow coming to awareness of the first light." Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott is a minimalist. Her specialty is capturing the poetry of everyday life. In Someone she masterfully demonstrates the writ
McDermott's writing doesn’t work for ME, at least not here, not in this book! I didn't relate, and that is strange since this is a book about women, all women, what we share. Not the famous, not the outstanding but the ordinary, albeit ”Western" woman. I think it tries to say too much. It washes out; it becomes too general.

The jokes, the girl-talk, the first love, how we relate to our husbands, the birth of our children, religious contemplations. It is all here, but I didn't relate......and I do
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Un romanzo volatile, impalpabile come lo zucchero filato. Non brutto, tutt’altro, scritto molto bene, con uno sguardo al microscopio sui gesti minimi dei personaggi che vivono in ambienti domestici minuziosamente descritti. La famiglia della protagonista, Marie, vive a Brooklyn, la storia parte dagli anni ’20 per arrivare al dopoguerra, è una normale famiglia cattolica irlandese, anche Marie è una bambina che passa inosservata, è timida e non parla mai, poi, attraverso una narrazione fatta di fl ...more
I normally try to give a book at least 50 pages before abandoning it, but I couldn't do that here. It was obvious from the get-go that this book and I were not meant to be. Sorry, book -- it's not you, it's me.

Alice McDermott turns a lovely phrase. Her sentences are poetic and evocative. For many goodreaders, it seems, that's enough, or even more than enough. Not for me.

The few pages I read were highly disjointed, with abrupt and unexpected jumps back and forth in time for no apparent reason. I
Mimi Jones
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another quiet beauty by Alice McDermott, a lens focused minutely yet compassionately on an "ordinary" life (though McDermott disproves that any such thing exists). In patchwork fashion, leaping back and forth in time, McDermott pieces together the entire lifespan of Marie Commeford: her childhood with her older brother Gabe and her parents in an Irish-American neighborhood in Brooklyn in the 30s; her young womanhood working in the local funeral home as a receptionist and "consoling angel"; her h ...more
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, book-club-pick
I love Alice McDermott. I don't think anyone is better at rendering *ordinary* lives extraordinary through brilliant writing. The details she chooses and the language she uses create a world so visually and emotionally rich that sometimes I find myself holding my breath while reading. For me, she's the literary equivalent of a brilliant figure skater or gymnast.
Connie G
Alice McDermott makes one deeply care about her characters--everyday people living in an Irish immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Her writing is exquisite and compassionate as she describes the ups and downs in the life of Marie, her brother Gabe, and their parents. Although Marie wears thick black glasses, she's very observant as a young girl seeing life in the neighborhood from the stoop of their brownstone. Later, she learns about death and how to interact with people when she works as a gre ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a quiet, unassuming book about a woman, Marie, born in Brooklyn in the 1930's(?). The author reveals Marie's life to us in chapters. She may be young in one chapter and then an old woman in the next. Normal life events happen to her, but nothing so out of the ordinary that reader can't relate to her thoughts and feelings. One thing that I noted while reading that was special about the book was the imagery McDermott was able to create with words. The way the light may come through the win ...more
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
Brooklyn is in my blood. Yes, I was born there, but shortly thereafter my parents moved to the suburbs. Especially on my 100% Irish Catholic mother's side, our family has a long history there. So it was natural I would reach for Someone by Alice McDermott. Within a few pages, I knew not only that this was a book I would enjoy, but also that I would want to read it more than once. The book seemed near-sacramental. Someone seemed to recreate my mother's milieu during the World War II years. Every ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
In precise and understated language, Alice McDermott tells the story of Marie, an "ordinary" woman and her full, eventful life. We see her as a shy child quietly observing the goings-on on her street in Brooklyn, then as a yearning adolescent, as a bride and young mother, and finally as an elderly widow. We are struck by how intense and important tiny events are & how deeply felt. The author describes the newly widowed Marie drying her hands "in her own efficient, getting-on-with-it way." No ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical story of the absolutely ordinary life in early to mid-century Brooklyn. Told superbly. I knew nothing about the subject matter, nor the time period before reading this book- had not read one review either. Yet before I was 60 pages in to it, I was mesmerized. It made the hairs on my arms stand up. Although about 30 years before my own time period, nearly every detail re the community and Church, and neighbors and even style of residence in this novel- all completely familiar to my own li ...more
Janet M
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, book-club
Another book club selection which makes me wonder if I'm in the wrong book club. Story really dragged, nothing really happening, more was "told" than "shown" (ie. reader not involved in the action), jumped around in time (even on the same page, no warning), fairly pointless although I'm told one has to go back and re-read to pick up the subtleties. That's fine for some, I guess, but I'm not taking a literature course. I read to escape and enjoy, not to strain to figure out "now what must the aut ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
An exquisitely written story about a mostly ordinary Irish-American working class woman, and her life from little girl in the 20s to very old woman some time around now. The book picks up, in a way, where Tree Grows in Brooklyn leaves off - Marie sits on a stoop about 10 years after we last see Francie sitting on one, and Marie's family is less troubled and more upwardly mobile than Francie Nolan's, but many of the themes are the same. Someone is a love poem to Brooklyn too - an elegy for a neig ...more
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I came upon Alice's work in her short novel, That Night. I was hooked. She is one of the best American writers I have ever read. She has a masterful eye for detail, and the choice of her words creates the most precise image in the imagination. I'd quote her here but it would be impossible to share enough.

This is a story of a woman, told back and forth in her history. I have read several books recently that use this back and forth, life-arch story model, and this one was the most seamless. I nev
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2016
La vida, como la novela de Alice McDermott, no es más que una sucesión de escenas cotidianas a las que solo el tiempo añade significado. Lo extraordinario de Alguien, así como de sus personajes, es precisamente esa ausencia de notoriedad, ese reconfortante y nostálgico esbozo de una existencia común, ordinaria, anónima y, sin embargo, memorable. Con un estilo melancólico y desprovisto de ornamentos, la autora norteamericana nos ofrece la hermosa crónica vital de alguien como tú y como yo, una ob ...more
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The reader will not want this book to end. It is such a marvelous, easy to read story told through Marie’s memories as she looks back over the years recalling the things that were meaningful in her life. It is told in an uncomplicated, simple, straight-forward way in which all life-cycle events, some major and some minor, play a role. As the pages turn, we witness births, deaths, tragedies, joys, marriages, illnesses, milestones and setbacks, dreams and nightmares. Family devotion and loyalty, s ...more
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am most fortunate that my library delivers books to my door for free. I order them online and a few days later they arrive in a heavy blue plastic bag. Awesome. That being said, I don't know how this book came to me other than that. I have never heard of this author, never heard of this book. But apparently I ordered it. And I read it. And I really enjoyed it. I don't quite know what it was about, exactly, other than the story of a New York family through 2 generations. It was compelling, funn ...more
Jim Elkins
Sep 20, 2013 added it
Shelves: american
Writing As If In the Past

I had to stop reading this. McDermott's writing is careful and clean, as the reviewers say, and that is definitely a pleasure. But there is a limit to how much time I want to spend with a book that could have been written in 1950. To be fair, the book is set in the 20th century, but it bothers me that it has no signs of having been written in the present. It is almost the case that there is not a single word, idea, image, thought, sentiment, or narrative device that coul
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Alice McDermott (born June 27, 1953) is Johns Hopkins University's Writer-in-Residence. Born in Brooklyn, New York, McDermott attended St. Boniface School in Elmont, Long Island, NY [1967], Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead NY [1971], the State University of New York at Oswego, receiving her BA in 1975, and later received her MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

She has taught at the UC
“My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child's need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents', my brother's, even Tom's, had failed to do. Love was required of me now--to be given, not merely to be sought and returned.” 20 likes
“For one of us at least, we knew, we were certain - this is how we saw the world - there would never again be loneliness in life.” 7 likes
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