Emily Alone by Stewart O’Nan (2011)
The thing I enjoy about O’Nan’s writing is that he captures contemporary American life in its solitary nature. Emily Maxwell is the 80-ish widow rattling around her Pittsburgh house, watching her neighbor’s homes being sold, checking the paper for obituaries of familiar names, cleaning her house before the cleaning lady arrives but mostly hoping and waiting for the annual visits of her children. When Emily’s sister-in-law (who is her sole companion) faints at breakfast, her days change. Taking control of your future doesn’t always mean you have control and she forges onward with grace, hope, and an inner strength that is honest and touching. O’Nan’s writing permits the reader to feel like they inhabit the very heart and soul of his characters.
For more about Emily Alone and to read an excerpt check out this article on NPR.