MLA Gold Award Site

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


The receptionist at the adoption agency went on maternity leave. Rather than hire another temp, the director decided that Vivian could manage her work while sitting at the front desk. She instructed Vivian on how to handle the prospective parents who came to the office to be interviewed. Vivian was to be polite and helpful in terms of offering water or coffee or directing them to the restrooms in the hallway, but not overly solicitous and definitely not optimistic in any way. Vivian was confused by this last directive; she was unsure how to be helpful without giving off an air of optimism. Most couples sat in the waiting room in silence, fearing, perhaps, that anything they said in front of the receptionist might be used against them.

One afternoon a man walked into the office. He was a small, compact man with what Vivian’s mother would have called a “coif ” of thick, shiny hair. He wore an elegant suit of a modern cut, the jacket purposefully small, the pants short enough to reveal his garishly printed socks. He stood in front of her desk, and a second before he opened his mouth to speak, Vivian realized who he was.

“Where’s your wife?” she said, imagining that the man had forbidden his wife to come this time, that he had decided that her presence was what stood in the way of their getting a child.

“Excuse me?”

“Usually we see couples,” Vivian said, covering for her blunder. She reminded herself to be polite and not optimistic. She didn’t want to lose her job.

“I don’t have an appointment,” he said.

“She’s doing an interview right now,” Vivian said.

His face was anguished for a moment, as if he thought that this other couple were, at that very moment, being granted the child he’d hoped would be his. Of course this was not the way it worked, but perhaps the man didn’t know that.

“Is it okay if I wait?”

“I guess,” Vivian said. “Do you want water? Or coffee?”

His face relaxed and opened up, and Vivian saw how great the barriers were between a person and his happiness, and how little it took to make him think they were small.

“I don’t need anything,” he said.

She tried to go back to her transcription, but she could not concentrate. She typed zzzzzz for an entire line, then ?????? for two more after that.

“My wife left me,” he said.

She looked up. He was staring down at the checkerboard pattern on the linoleum floor as if it were a code he was trying to break.

“Oh,” she said.

“Does she do single-parent adoptions?”

“I don’t know,” Vivian said. “I’m just a temp.”

He nodded. His pants were so short, she could see his legs where his socks ended. The hair there was dark and smooth, as if combed.

The man stood up and walked over to the wicker shelf that held various books about adoption. He took down a paperback, flipped through it, put it back.

“Do you know what she looks for?” he said. “I mean, what type of people she accepts?”

“The stupid, obvious things,” Vivian said. “People who have a lot of love to give.” She was immediately ashamed of her small cruelty, but he did not seem to remember his own words.

He sat down again. “This is crazy. I don’t even have an appointment.”

Her job was temporary. The director had informed her that the receptionist, when she came back, would take on the work of transcribing the interviews along with her other duties. Vivian had proved that it could be done. Vivian had a feeling, too, that she would soon have to find a new living arrangement. Shelly had found out about the night with Toby and had said that she didn’t care, but things felt different now.

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!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Never-Open Desert Diner
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Velazquez
    The Vanishing Velazquez
    by Laura Cumming
    Author Laura Cumming spins out a tale of obsession and ruin in her latest book, The Vanishing Vel&#...
  • Book Jacket
    The Fair Fight
    by Anna Freeman
    Anna Freeman's debut novel, The Fair Fight, highlights the world of boxing in England during ...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.


Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Dark Lady's Mask
    by Mary Sharratt

    Based on the life of the first professional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration with Shakespeare.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H Now B C?

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.