What a gently amazing book. It was so authentic, so heartfelt that I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction. McDermott has a remarkable ability to provide just enough detail to paint the picture the reader needs and then to step back. So much is spoken; so much is imagined. Even the title is spot on. It seems to take on more layers as the story evolves. Our protagonist is someone. Later, she is assured by her brother – who deserves a story of his own – that someone will love her. In the end, I think McDermott suggests that it is the small things that make us someone, that someone else can help us along the path – a friend (in a heartbreaking funeral scene), a parent or child, a stranger on the street. We want to be someone, in our bodies, which deserve attention and respect, and in our lives, which deserve the same.
It was only when I withdrew from McDermott’s world that I could consider the subtle architecture of her story. The blind character and the character who is in danger of losing her sight, the bodies of those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who return from war and are somewhere in between, and the difference between where you live and where you call home.
I appreciate books that don’t try to reach for operatic heights. Certainly, things happen in this story, but they are windows through which we watch Marie navigate her world. The attention here is on the small moment – the baking of bread, the awkward meeting on the street. It’s a delicate story about Marie’s resilience.