All Alone with You

S. & S. Jul. 2023. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534493575.
Gr 8 Up–Pragmatic perfectionist Eloise is a classic academic overachiever. Unfortunately, USC’s admissions process is so competitive that without something to make her application stand out, her chances of getting a scholarship are slim. After spending her high school career cynically uninvolved in anything remotely community-oriented, Eloise takes the only option available: a volunteer position with an organization that provides companionship for the elderly. Eloise arrives determined to put her head down and just get through the work, but then she meets her sunny co-volunteer, Austin, and Marianne, the elderly musician he cares for, and their combined energy is infectious. As she begins to develop deeper relationships with each of them, the cost of her anxiety and depression becomes clear and Eloise must decide whether being vulnerable is worth the risk. Coombs’s descriptions of Eloise’s internal struggle with her mental health and how it makes it difficult for her to ask for the help she needs is realistic and important, though her decision to engage in therapy comes a little too easily and too late. The steadfast softness of Austin is a perfect balance to Eloise’s sharp wit and snarkiness, and supportive parents on both sides are a comforting touch. Readers looking for an emotional, feel-good, slow-burn romance will find much to love in this one.
VERDICT A witty, charming rom-com with a frustrated and frustrating yet imminently relatable heroine.

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