Excerpt from Alone With You by Marisa Silver, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Alone With You


by Marisa Silver

Alone With You
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 164 pages
    Apr 2011, 176 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

By this time Shelly had become involved with a man named Toby, who stood on corners in Silver Lake and Echo Park handing out pamphlets about the Socialist Workers Party. He was a quiet man who wore thick-framed glasses and collared shirts, which he tucked into his jeans. When he spoke to people he listened carefully as if they were giving him directions. He had gone to a very good college back East, and when he talked fervently about his political beliefs, Vivian admired his seriousness and his self-restraint, and the prominent tendons of his forearms. Shelly grunted a lot while having sex on the pullout, and in the mornings Toby left quickly, a ream of freshly printed flyers stuffed under his arm.


The couple whom Vivian had considered unsuitable for adoption had come back for a second interview. When Vivian turned on the tape recorder, the sound of the man’s voice was so vivid that she looked over her shoulder thinking he was behind her. Instead of starting to type she pressed the headphones tightly to her ears and just listened to what was being said.

“Maybe we didn’t make the right impression,” the man said.

There was a pause, and then the wife said, “We have a lot of love to give. Right, Paul?”

“But that’s what everybody says, of course,” the man said. Vivian could hear the tension in his voice. He must have stood up at that point because as he continued his voice grew distant and full of air. “You must hear stupid, obvious things like that every day,” he said. “ ‘We have a lot of love to give.’ It’s probably meaningless to you. But what else can we say? We want a child. We have enough money to offer a child a good life, all the advantages. We’re decent people with decent values. But it feels like we’re paying the price for some biological glitch we have no control over.”

The director of the agency assured them that they had done well in the interview process, but that it was her job to match the right children with the right parents and this effort could take time.

“Some people don’t test well,” the man said. “Is that it?” His voice was louder, as if he were seated again.

The director told them that it wasn’t a test.

“Sure it is,” the man said. “Everything is a test.”

When the interview was over Vivian sat listening to the sound of empty tape winding through the recorder. She rewound it and listened to the entire interview again. Some people don’t test well. The way he said it made it sound like a kind of attack. It was as if he could open up the director’s head, peer into her brain, and see all her prejudices and value judgments. When he talked about the “stupid, obvious thing” his wife had said, Vivian imagined the woman looking at her lap, embarrassed that the compromises of her marriage were being exposed to a stranger, and that it was she who would be considered weak for accepting these insults, rather than her husband for hurling them.

Vivian rewound the interview once again and began to input it into the computer. The words were familiar to her now and she tried to visualize the couple. She saw the man with dark, neatly cropped hair, muscular from hours at a gym. He was the kind of man who, when he was inside, wore his sunglasses on the back of his head like a pair of upside-down eyes. She imagined the woman as delicate and fair, clasping her hands as if they were wayward children who might break something if she let them go. She was beautiful, but rusted, as if her beauty had been abandoned, exposed to the elements. Vivian knew that she could be completely wrong about the couple. They might be fat. They might be Chinese. They might be the warmest people in the world who would lavish on their adopted child the sort of palpable love advertised in greeting cards or on the collars of stuffed puppies. How could anyone know what kind of love another person had to give?

Excerpted from Alone With You by Marisa Silver. Copyright © 2010 by Marisa Silver. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.