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by Lynne Rae Perkins
HarperTrophy, 1999
Review by Courtney Young on Oct 29th 2001

All Alone in the Universe

As much as we may not want to admit it - we all lose friends. It's especially hard when there is no obvious reason for the end of a friendship. As we grow older this becomes a normal part of life, because we realize people grow and change in different directions which makes it difficult to maintain relationships. Children on the other hand have to experience this often-painful part of growing up in the absence of such realizations. Knowing such things are normal and not necessarily our fault can mean a world of difference; especially to an adolescent who is experiencing enough self-identity issues.

In All Alone in the Universe Lynne Rae Perkins beautifully executes the telling this all too familiar childhood experience. The main character Debbie watches as her best friend Maureen is slowly taken away from her by Glenna; whom she thinks Maureen simply feels sorry for. It's not until later in the book when she realizes that Maureen was not at all "taken", rather she chose to go, and this was Debbie's source of hurt and disappointment.

Instead of being angry at this other girl she slowly realizes with the help of some insightful adults she encounters along the way that there is no one to blame. Sometimes though, it is easier for us to accept such hardships when we can pin down its source; without one we feel almost lost. The author breaks this book down into months, taking us on a yearlong journey through the gradual disintegration of what was a great friendship. Although rather sad at times the mere veracity of this experience is comforting because we know we are not the only ones to whom this has happened.

In the beginning of the new school year Debbie slowly allows herself to make a new friend. This gives us hope that although not all friendships last forever we should not deny ourselves the opportunity to both have friends and to be a friend. This book is filled with pen and ink illustrations serving almost as doodles to Debbie's vivid and humorous imagination as the tale unfolds. This book is a great read for both children and adults because it is the re-telling of a universal life experience.
 

© 2001 Courtney Young

Courtney Young recently graduated from Dowling College with a major in Fine Arts and a minor in Philosophy.