All Alone With You by Amelia Diane Coombs offers great representation for anxiety and depression sufferers. While this representation is needed in YA, I personally found the protagonist to be not a nice person throughout most of the story.
I do see many positive Goodreads reviews though, and it appears my somewhat negative review is in the minority.
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publication Date: July 25, 2023
Genre: realistic fiction, romance
Setting: Seattle, Washington, USA
Recommended for: Grades 8-12
Themes: social anxiety, depression, perfectionism, overachievers, volunteer work, teens with jobs, intergenerational friendship, opposites attract, mental health
Protagonist: female, age 17, white, HS senior
Starred reviews: no starred reviews
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY OF ALL ALONE WITH YOU
Eloise Deane is the worst and doesn’t care who knows it. She’s grumpy, prefers to be alone, and is just slogging through senior year with one goal: get accepted to USC and move to California.
So when her guidance counselor drops the bombshell that to score a scholarship she’ll desperately need, her applications require volunteer hours, Eloise is up for the challenge. Until she’s paired with LifeCare, a volunteer agency that offers social support to lonely seniors through phone calls and visits. Basically, it’s a total nightmare for Eloise’s anxiety.
Eloise realizes she’s made a huge mistake–especially when she’s paired with Austin, the fellow volunteer who’s the sunshine to her cloudy day. But as Eloise and Austin work together to keep Marianne Landis–the mysterious former frontwoman of the 1970s band the Laundromats–company, something strange happens. Eloise actually…likes Marianne and Austin?
She isn’t sure what to do with that, especially when her feelings toward Austin begin to blur into more-than-friends territory.
And when ex-girlfriends, long-buried wounds, and insecurities reappear, Eloise will have a choice to make: go all in with Marianne and Austin or get out before she gets hurt.
THE SHORT VERSION
I didn’t love it or hate it. The main character was not someone I rooted for, and nothing exciting happened.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT ALL ALONE WITH YOU
I think the best part of this book is the honest look inside the mind of a teen suffering from depression and anxiety. Eloise constantly second-guesses herself. She’s a perfectionist and overachiever, even as she puts herself down constantly. She doesn’t have any friends, which bothers her even if she won’t admit it to herself.
I didn’t like Eloise at all, and I know I wasn’t supposed to like her. She doesn’t like herself, either. I know many teens will identify with her negative self-talk and her constant need to push people away. It’s not that Eloise is actually that horrible; it’s just the front she puts up to protect herself.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
It took me forever to finish this book. I considered abandoning it many times, and I read a few other books in between chapters of this one.
It’s boring. Not much happens in 352 pages. Eloise grumbles a lot. She rides in Austin’s “murder van.” She worries and plays online games and texts with Austin. She volunteers to keep a wealthy older woman company, which is also quite boring.
Eloise is unnecessarily mean to and jealous of her little sister. Ana’s character isn’t very developed, but she seems like a normal 11-year old girl. She certainly doesn’t do anything to deserve her sister’s constant scorn.
So yeah, it’s no secret that I did not care for or about Eloise. She does get a bit “sunnier” by the end, but she’s still a major sourface. Why does everyone seem to like her so much? Austin falls for her for zero reason other than the fact that she is there. Marianne sees herself in Eloise, so I guess I get that one. Austin’s bandmate Shy also takes to Eloise quickly. Why?
Outside Eloise, there isn’t much character development. Love interest Austin seems okay but quite flat. He’s joyous. He likes making up funny sayings for t-shirts. His dad died a few years ago. He plays in a rock band. He has a clingy ex-girlfriend.
More than once, people refer to Austin as an “onion,” someone with many layers to peel back. What layers does Austin have? I didn’t see much beyond what I’ve written here.
Marianne, a 72-year old formerly famous musician, is just someone who is there to reflect Eloise. Marianne seems to represent Eloise in 50+ years, a sort-of cautionary tale about pushing people away. That’s about all there is to her character. She was a musician a long time ago. She’s lonely. She had a romantic relationship, but the person died decades ago. She drinks and smokes and has a cat. Anything else we know about her? Not really.
Eloise and most other characters cue white. Austin is Korean American.
LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW
Would adults like this book? I don’t think so. There is a high level of teen angst from Eloise that gets old quickly.
Would I buy this for my high school library? I personally would not, mainly because there are other books I’d prefer to buy. No content worries for high school.
Would I buy this for my middle school library? I would not. I don’t have major content concerns, but there is a somewhat high amount of profanity, including multiple F-bombs. School librarians have to be careful about profanity in middle school books, even though our students most definitely know and say these words.
Would I buy this for my elementary school library? No. It’s not an elementary book.
Language: multiple F-bombs and sh**
Sexuality: very mild; some chaste kissing at the end
Drugs/Alcohol: 72-year old character drinks alcohol excessively and smokes cigarettes; other characters are concerned about her consumption