I’ve read a lot of books with a similar premise to Alice McDermott’s (like Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers and Mary Costello’s Academy Street). The focus on a single life gives an author room to show how each of our lives are significant, and how they are interesting in all of their distinct particulars.
What sets this book apart is the chronology. Instead of telling the story in chronological order, L chooses to juxtapose certain scenes with each other, which lends more significance to the individual scenes chosen and shows a progression in a different way.
Someone is a quietly powerful book that you could finish in an afternoon but that would stick with you much longer.