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Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan
In Emily, Alone, Emily Maxwell is an elderly widow living a mostly isolated life. Her children don't visit enough and she's outlived many of her friends. She has a few rituals, one of them being accompanying her sister-in-law Arlene to a two-for-one breakfast buffet. When Arlene collapses at the buffet, Emily is forced to do something she hasn't done in decades, drive a car. This simple change to her life brings a freedom and independence to her life that she hadn't realized she had missed. In many ways, though, Emily's life stays rooted in the past while life moves on all around her. Stewart O'Nan's novel has received positive reviews with the Boston Globe saying, "This quiet novel unfolds in chapters that feel like short stories, with a pause inviting reflection at the end of each. The effect is one of richness and insight. At times, Emily feels that death would be a welcome caller, and while preparing her children for that eventuality, the novel ends with the sense that she's reluctant to go. The reader is equally reluctant to see her story end."