In Alone by Megan E Freeman, twelve-year-old Maddie plans a secret sleepover with two friends featuring a smorgasbord of Twinkies and soda. But her friends cancel and she sleeps by herself at her grandparents’ otherwise empty apartment. Then she wakes up to a new world–one with no other people in it.
She reads the clues and listens to voicemails from her parents: roused by emergency warnings, the townspeople crowded onto buses in the middle of the night, leaving behind their pets and most of their belongings (including cell phones). They fled an unnamed “imminent threat.” Because of Maddie’s sleepover deception, her mother thought she was at her dad’s house. And her dad thought she was at her mom’s house. In the scramble to evacuate, apparently no one noticed she wasn’t evacuated too.
This novel in non-rhyming verse, quickly read, tells Maddie’s thoughts and feelings as she copes with loneliness and a host of troubles, including no power, no communication, no heat, no clean water except what she can scavenge. She rescues the neighbors’ Rottweiler, locked in their house, and adopts him. Weeks stretch into months. She breaks into the local library and starts reading books. She lives on canned food and bottled water found in the supermarket and gas stations. In one funny scene, she uses her mom’s bottles of wine to flush the toilet.
Natural disasters bring danger. But the loneliness is the worst. And she wonders: what happened to her family? Why don’t they come back for her?
We watch as irresponsible Maddie develops resourcefulness and maturity, facing some real perils. Her story becomes compelling, the longer you read it. I’ll give it 4.5 stars. ****
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