Alone Together: A Curious Exploration of Loneliness

Orca. (Orca Think). Mar. 2024. 88p. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9781459837232.
Gr 3-7–With no tropes to lean on, Fong has taken apart the topics of “alone” and “together” that preoccupied everyone during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, and created an accessible guide to individual integrity. By opening with anecdotes and references to COVID-19 and then the orphans found in stories (“A Series of Unfortunate Events,” the “Pippi Longstocking” tales), the narrative lays out a spectrum of what alone means, whether by choice on one end, or at the other, the “forced isolation” of segregation that led to the Greensboro Four, the Black college students who took seats at the “whites only” lunch counter in 1960. The information covered, in five chapters such as “Taking a Stand Against Loneliness” and “With Mac and Cheese, You’re Never Alone,” is peppered with Dyck’s inviting full-color, comic-style panels and photographs, suggested reading (such as Megan E. Freeman’s Alone), the inclusion of superheroes who battle their own isolation, and other cultural references that will resonate for middle graders. There are many avenues into the material; browsers can scan the table of contents for possible remedies for feelings of being too alone; researchers can access the index; the book also works as a solid read-through, and lends itself to a foundation for classroom studies. Back matter includes a glossary, resources, and an index.
VERDICT The challenges of this topic are invisible; Fong is thoughtful in the material included but lighthearted in its rendering, and young readers will find much to consider in this “Think” series entry.

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