Summary and book reviews of Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler

Edie Richter is Not Alone

by Rebecca Handler

Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler X
Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Mar 2021, 192 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Book Summary

Funny, acerbic Edie Richter is moving with her husband from San Francisco to Perth, Australia.

She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father. Before the move, Edie and her husband were content, if socially awkward―given her disinclination for small talk. In Perth, Edie finds herself in a remarkably isolated yet verdant corner of the world, but Edie has a secret: she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. In some ways, the landscape mirrors her own complicated inner life, and rather than escaping her past, Edie is increasingly forced to confront what she's done. Everybody, from the wildlife to her new neighbors, is keen to engage, and Edie does her best to start fresh. But her relationship with her husband is fraying, and the beautiful memories of her father are heartbreaking, and impossible to stop. Something, in the end, has to give.

Written in clean spare prose that is nevertheless brimming with the richness and wry humor of the protagonist's observations and idiosyncrasies, Edie Richter is Not Alone is Rebecca Handler's debut novel. It is both deeply shocking and entirely quotidian: a story about a woman's visceral confrontation with the fundamental meaning of humanity.

Chapter 2

I couldn't figure out whether Dad was technically dying, but we moved from Boston to San Francisco to be closer to him. Oren had wanted to get out of the snow anyway, and he got a job at Coral, an oil company based just outside of San Francisco. I quit my job at the antihunger organization and picked up some freelance work writing fund-raising letters. We flew with ten-year-old Frisbee in a carrier on our laps and got a small apartment in the inner Richmond district, three blocks from Golden Gate Park.

After Dad's diagnosis, Mom started labeling things and let Dad grow a beard. She went to a baby store and bought plastic child-protection locks for the kitchen. Just so he won't stab me, she said, as I wrestled with one of them, trying to get a corkscrew out from a drawer. You remember Tanya from my walking group? Her mother attacked the cleaning lady and they had to move her into a home.

Dad's illness was hard on Abby. She was twenty-two and living at home, trying to be a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Edie Richter Is Not Alone is an absorbing, sharp, acerbic book about guilt and loss, easy to read in a single sitting but with a lasting impact. Although it's light on plot, it's a difficult book to put down; Rebecca Handler so effortlessly immerses the reader in Edie's interior that the book feels both all-encompassing and intensely intimate. Her prose is assured and wry. While the novel is disturbing in some respects, it's also brutally honest, and digs at the question of what it means to love and grieve and be human, while staunchly refusing to give any easy answers...continued

Full Review Members Only (598 words).

(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Edie Richter Is Not Alone documents the trauma of illness and the ravaging effects it has on Edie’s family with such honesty and accuracy that it made my ribs ache...[the novel] blossoms under the weight of Edie’s crisis. Yes, her selfishness is unpalatable at times. (An examination of whether her actions are justifiable could take up a whole other review.) But it’s also what makes her human.

Booklist (starred review)
Handler's Edie joins the ranks of unforgettably eccentric, intelligent women protagonists, such as the titular character in Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Eleanor Flood in Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different.

Publishers Weekly
[A]ffecting and darkly funny...Edie's increasingly unpredictable behavior reaches its crescendo with a heartbreaking climax, and along the way, the author explores not merely Edie's guilt, but the complicated feelings over her loss. This quick, engrossing novel brings laughter and tears.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A tragicomic exploration of the collateral damage of Alzheimer's disease...Handler gets it right from the title on out. Edie is definitely not alone. Her plight is one many readers will respond to deeply and perhaps even be soothed by...Profound yet often quite funny, keenly observed, and deeply affecting.

Author Blurb Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments
The gently hilarious, exquisitely observant Edie Richter narrates the experience of complicated grief with brutal accuracy. 'My body was a collection of muscles and bones and a thing I had done,' she observes, in one of many brilliantly simple sentences. This novel's deep impact belies its marvelously deft touch.

Author Blurb Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less
Oh how I love this book. I finished Edie Richter Is Not Alone in one sitting, then reread it immediately. Hilariously heartbreakingly honest on every page, Rebecca Handler's novel is that rare thing: a perfect book.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Perth

Perth skyline featuring skyscrapers and a harborPerth features as the primary location in Rebecca Handler's debut novel Edie Richter Is Not Alone, about an American expatriate who relocates to Perth following the death of her father.

Located on the southwest coast, Perth is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of around two million in the greater metropolitan area, according to a 2016 census. The capital of the state of Western Australia, Perth is nicknamed the "City of Lights"; in 1962, when astronaut John Glenn orbited Earth, there was a public campaign encouraging Perth residents to turn all of their lights on, resulting in the city being visible from space.

The southwest corner of Australia including what is now Perth has been occupied by Indigenous people ...

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