I received an e-ARC of Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton from NetGalley in return for review consideration. The novel will be published by Penguin in the UK on 1st February 2018.
Dolly Alderton is a journalist and former dating columnist for The Sunday Times, and Everything I Know About Love recounts her childhood, school and university years, and her stepping out into the adult world. She relates tales of success, failure, and hilarity (Rod Stewart-themed house party, anyone?) as she and her friends learn what it means to come of age in the new millennium, faced with challenges and opportunities their parents could never have conceived of.
I enjoyed this memoir a lot. Alderton writes well, with a friendly and casual style that draws you in and allows her to move from light, happy sections to more intense, sometimes deeply sad passages without becoming overwrought. It has the feeling of a very longform personal essay, the kind that I personally enjoy reading, but I know is not to everyone’s taste. I think, however, that Alderton does a good job of balancing the funny stories with personal insight.
The book is divided nicely into sections, bookended by chapters entitled ‘Everything I Knew About Love as a Teenager/At Twenty-One/At Twenty-Five’, with ‘Everything I Know About Love at Twenty-Eight’ providing the final chapter. These short chapters list out the truths Alderton held dear at those ages, and I found myself reading down these lists and going ‘yes, yes, yes’ to so many of the points. Particularly in the ‘as a Teenager’ section, there were points which made me shake my head in memory of Past Me, certain that she knew All The Important Things when really, nothing was further from the truth.
Alderton and I are almost the same age (I’m a year or so older) so there were a lot of elements of her book which really resonated with me, such as growing up as the internet became a ‘thing’, using instant messenger and mobile phones to constantly talk with friends you’d seen at school mere hours early, much to the consternation of your parents. Her university experience, however, was definitely not like mine, though probably much more reflective of what most students expect – making friends, drinking too much, and occasionally attending a lecture or two – and it definitely reminded me of some of my friends.
There were some deeply touching moments within the memoir, particularly as Alderton learns to deal with loss and the ever changing nature of friendship and life. My favourite part of the book was probably the last quarter. I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone, so I will say only that Alderton has some realisations about her life, what she wants to get out of it, and what she might need to do to make that happen. I came out of the book with a lot of respect for her.
All in all, this was a witty and moving book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a well-written, satisfying memoir about love, friendship, and growing up in the nineties and noughties.
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