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Book Review: Good Material by Dolly Alderton

Written by Katelyn Wright, one of our advice writers, and edited by Amber Splading, one of our editors!

Whether it’s the obsessive Instagram stalk, the shitty apartment in a costly city, or the

struggles of growing up, nobody writes more genuinely candid than Dolly Alderton. You may

know Alderton from her 2018 memoir, Everything I Know About Love, where Alderton discusses navigating her early 20s and how the definition of love has evolved throughout her life thus far. I found her genuineness and refusal to shy away from the uncomfortable refreshing. Her newest novel, Good Material is no exception, highlighting her unique writing style but from a new perspective.

The story follows Andy as he navigates life after a breakup in his mid-thirties. After

Andy’s ex-girlfriend, Jen breaks up with him, he is forced to re-examine his life in a way that he never expected. To make matters worse, Andy and Jen share best friends in the married couple of Avi and Jane. Andy later moves in with Morris, an elderly Londoner who is renting out a room in his flat for an obscenely low rate. Andy not only has to navigate singlehood but also the time in his life that society deems “the end of the beginning.” It’s the end of wild nights with friends, when being single was a cause for celebration, and when not having definitive plans meant limitless opportunity. On the other hand, it’s also the beginning of weddings, baby showers, and mortgages. Andy finds himself firmly stuck in the middle and has to confront his issues with his body, career aspirations, and lifestyle in a way most of us spend our entire lives trying to avoid. Most interestingly, this novel takes place from the perspective of a male character, something so rarely seen in fiction novels centered around romance. Andy is not only extremely relatable but also gives a fresh insight into male friendships and breakups. Alderton is able to touch on issues like the lack of emotional intimacy in male friendships or the discrepancies in so many relationships, without coming across as cheesy or demeaning. Andy simply can’t let go, and as we later learn, neither can Jen. As a reader, going on this frank journey with Andy is cathartic. Whether or not Andy shares his ruminations with the people around him, we can take comfort in hearing the unabridged version of this chapter of his life.

In a way, we’ve all airbrushed our past. In doing so we may think we’re saving face, but

are quite actually doing the opposite. Self-reflection is a key part of the human experience, but if we aren’t willing to confront our past behavior, then what good does reflecting do for us? Let’s embrace the embarrassing and the unhinged because frankly, our lives mean nothing without it.


This piece was written by one of our advice writers, Katelyn Wright. Reach her at @katekatewrig on Twitter.

This piece was edited by one of our editors, Amber Spalding. Reach her at @spaldingamber on Twitter and Instagram.


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