Review: All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins

all-aloneI finally read Lynne Rae Perkins’s All Alone in the Universe, which I only managed to find this year, at Kinokuniya.

I read Criss Cross several years ago and if it’s possible for a writer to be one of your favourites based on just one book then Lynne Rae Perkins is that author.

I might have known, one-upon-a-time, that All Alone has the same protagonist as Criss Cross, but I’d forgotten. In fact, I’ve forgotten what Criss Cross is about, just that I loved every word of it.

All Alone comes before Criss Cross and it’s a short book that left me wanting more. Indeed, it could be one of Alice Munro’s longer shorties, and as beautifully and evocatively written. Debbie, the main character, is well-realised, and I completely related to her and her struggles.

It may sound crazy that I, at 49, totally gets the feeling of loss, indignation and isolation a 14-year-old feels when she senses her friend drifting away from her, but there you go. Not only do I remember feeling those emotions when I was Debbie’s age; I still feel them now, and then also feel petulant and spoilt when I do.

Books in which ‘not a lot happens’ are my favourite sort, and this story is one of those: not action-driven, but flowing with the meandering currents of Debbie’s state of mind and emotions.

criss-crossCombined with art by Perkins (it was her major as an undergraduate as well as in grad school), the overall impression is both whimsical and contemplative.

All Alone‘s only fault, in my opinion, is that it’s too brief and thus, somewhat lacks a sense of resolution. Of course, this (resolution) is not a must: Life doesn’t always (hardly ever, actually) resolve neatly in a concluding chapter and paragraph, and Debbie is obviously a work-in-progress.

I’ve started reading Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem (continuing my Oct to Dec TBR challenge), but I think I shall make a short detour to Criss Cross.  


Lynne Rae Perkins

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