All Alone with You
Amelia Diane Coombs
Simon & Schuster
Published July 25, 2023
About All Alone with You
HBO Max’s Hacks gets a romantic twist in the vein of Jenn Bennett in this swoon-worthy novel about a standoffish teen girl whose loner status gets challenged by a dynamic elderly woman and a perpetually cheerful boy.
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. She actually…likes Marianne and Austin? Eloise 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.
I can see the comparison to Jenn Bennett in the marketing copy– I felt like the vibes between Eloise and Austin were a little like the relationship between Bailey and Alex in ALEX, APPROXIMATELY. There’s not a rivalry, but there’s definitely a vested interest in dislike on Eloise’s part, especially at the beginning of the book. The romance blooms slowly, and everyone sees it coming before Eloise herself. In fact, sometimes she’s willfully blind to the signs that it’s there.
I really liked the exploration of friendship in the book, too. Eloise was burned pretty badly by her former friends during a personal crisis, so she’s got her defenses up sky-high when she’s introduced to Austin and Marianne. Her prickliness and Marianne’s take-no-prisoners attitude make for some really fun banter.
Between Marianne’s past and Austin’s present role as bass player in a local band, there’s quite a bit of focus on music in the book, too. Each chapter begins with a quote from a song by the Laundromats. One scene shows Austin’s band rehearsing for a gig. Another shows them playing the gig. I enjoyed the way those scenes played out and how they added a lot to Austin’s character beyond the goofy, Mr. Sunshine character we’d gotten to know.
All in all, I think if you’re looking for a prickly, slow-burn romance, with cross-generational friendship, ALL ALONE WITH YOU is a perfect fit and definitely worth checking out for Jenn Bennett or Jennifer E. Smith fans.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Eloise has depression and anxiety. Austin is Korean American and lost his dad. Marianne is a lesbian and struggles with alcoholism.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Very brief reference to the fact that Eloise struggled with suicidal ideation. She refers to Austin’s white van without windows as a “murder van”.
Marianne smokes cigarettes and drinks vodka in several scenes. Eloise notices a bong among Marianne’s things.
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