After the death of her father, Edie moves with her husband from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She carries with her a terrible secret, the perpetration of an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself and from which she distracts herself by interacting with strangers.
... though 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, it’s more a book about what happens next ... When witnessing a character’s steady and stubborn descent into full breakdown mode, it can be tempting for readers to judge the quality of a book based on said character’s poor decisions or bad behavior. Too often we throw away a novel because we deem its protagonist to be 'unrelatable,' or worse, 'unlikable'...In this case, Edie Richter Is Not Alone 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 ... It may seem counterintuitive to pick up a novel about death and grief when so many people are suffering at this moment in history. (More sadness? No thanks!)...What Handler’s book teaches us is that facing tragedy head-on and accepting death as a constant are the only ways to get through it. Plus, reading about or sharing someone else’s pain teaches us empathy ... No, Edie Richter wasn’t alone in her anxiety, her sorrow or attempts to heal, though she felt like it most of the time. Though all of us probably believe the opposite right now in this age of elbow bumps and quarantines, neither are we.
There is the belief that a person needs to have hit rock bottom in order to recover, but only a talented author, like Rebecca Handler, can show us what that looks like in gritty, realistic and darkly hilarious detail ... The point of this novel is transparency, allowing the reader to understand and track how Edie’s secret manifests, grows, morphs and ultimately affects her identity and her marriage ... exceedingly poignant moments showcase Handler’s skill because they manage to be heartbreaking without being sentimental ... Edie’s observations are precise, poetic and contribute greatly to the novel’s verisimilitude, which is not surprising considering that Handler’s material comes from the seeds of her own observations of daily life in Perth ... And not only are the observations acutely realistic, but the writing style packs a punch as well. Each paragraph is sparse, compact and seemingly simple, reading like a prose poem ... Edie Richter is Not Alone almost felt like it was the first half of a novel and the second is still out there waiting to be brought into words. Or maybe the resolution was that Edie Richter finally realized that she’s not alone, that since she at least told one stranger, she is no longer bearing her secret alone. ... Then again, as Edie points out, there is the argument that life is not cohesive, organized or logical, it is messy[.]
Debuting novelist 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 (2017) and Eleanor Flood in Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different (2016).