Cover image for All alone in the universe
All alone in the universe
Perkins, Lynne Rae.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwillow Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
140 pages ; 24 cm
Debbie is dismayed when her best friend Maureen starts spending time with ordinary, boring Glenna.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 4.0 34798.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.4 9 Quiz: 21753 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Debbie is dismayed when her best friend Maureen starts spending time with ordinary, boring Glenna. B & W illustrations throughout.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. How does it feel when your longtime best friend dumps you, casually, for no special reason? Many middle-schoolers will relate to Debbie's bewilderment, denial, and loneliness when Maureen, her intimate friend since third grade, suddenly starts spending all her time with another classmate, Glenna ("Maureen saw something in Glenna that I could not see. I leave it to her biographers, or maybe to microbiologists, to discover what that is"). Debbie's first-person narrative is sharp, funny, uneasy, spiteful, fragile. The casual, lovely words give voice to what she hardly knows is true until she says them. Perkins, whose picture books include Home Lovely (1996), writes in this first novel with a clear simplicity about emotional muddle, using occasional, tiny black-and-white pictures to express Debbie's viewpoint through particular details. Gradually, as the chapters move from April through December, Debbie reaches outward. People help her, and she helps a troubled classmate. She finds moments of empathy with a teacher, a neighbor, her mother, a stranger. She discovers "how sometimes laughing and crying are almost the same thing." The last chapter, in which her family joins a neighbor's multigenerational Christmas celebration, reads like a set piece. Even so, it is a fine climax to a realistic coming-of-age story that never minimizes Debbie's loss, even as she finds friendship in a widening world. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Perkins's (Home Lovely) first novel is a lively coming-of-age story filled with touching moments. The penciled illustrations, scribbled in between the narrative, resemble classic doodles of the junior high English notebook variety, and give 13-year-old narrator Debbie immediate credibility. The book chronicles eight months from the time when Debbie's best friend since third grade, Maureen, starts spending all her time with another classmate, Glenna. Debbie is devastated by the loss ("I felt off-balance, as if someone kept borrowing my right foot for a few minutes"). But as she gets to know a neglected neighbor girl, she realizes how many people love her: her parents, teachers and eventually, a few new friends. And she learns that as a person who is cared for, she must watch out for others who are not so fortunate. While there's not a lot of plot here, it's Debbie's fresh voice, perceptive observations and occasionally mean-spirited asides that will win readers over. Recalling Glenna's hold on Maureen, for instance, Debbie says, "I guess I hoped that she would evaporate.... But she seems to have congealed, like cold gravy and then cement." Readers will be caught up in Debbie's thoughts from the first page and cheer her hard-won breakthroughs. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Debbie and Maureen are in middle school; they've been best friends since third grade. At least they were until Glenna Flaiber arrives on the scene and becomes a major threat to their relationship. Debbie is comfortable being "Frick and Frack," as her father calls them, and becoming like the Three Musketeers is not appealing to her. When Maureen and Glenna vacation together and begin to share secrets that exclude her, Debbie begins to feel "all alone in the universe." In truth, Maureen likes both girls, but Glenna's constant presence is hard for the jealous friend to take and Debbie is gradually pushed out of the picture. With the help of a caring teacher and some new adult friends, she realizes that Maureen, not Glenna, is ultimately responsible for ending their friendship, and that's what hurts the most. Debbie is gently guided along to reach out to some new girls, and finds that she can be friends with many different types of people. The ending is realistic. There are no magical solutions or potions that bring the former friends back together. As in real life, growth occurs, relationships change, and the girls move on. A poignant story written with sensitivity and tenderness.-Roxanne Burg, Thousand Oaks Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Debbie feels that she is "all alone in the universe," when her best friend Maureen suddenly starts spending all her time with their classmate, Glenna. As Debbie mourns her changing relationship with Maureen, she slowly begins the process of forming new friendships. This touching story by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow, 1999) of friendships lost and made, told through Debbie's first person point of view, is deftly narrated by actress Hope Davis. Davis believably portrays Debbie's confusion, sadness, and general moping about. The only downside to this audiobook is that listeners don't see the appealing illustrations by the author that appear in the book . This excellent audio version will appeal to upper elementary and middle school girls.-Lori Craft, Itasca Community Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. Where I Livep. 1
2. That Perfect Day in April, for Examplep. 5
3. Mayp. 14
4. The Open Housep. 26
5. Junep. 34
6. At Some Point July Turned into Augustp. 48
7. Septemberp. 73
8. Octoberp. 90
9. The Hikep. 99
10. The Intruderp. 105
11. Novemberp. 115
12. Thanksgiving Mondayp. 122
13. Early Decemberp. 127
14. Christmas Evep. 131