I received an ARC of this book via Fig Tree and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her . . .
I gave into the hype and read Everything I Know About Love last year, soon establishing that it deserved to be the answer to the question anyone that likes books and reading absolutely despises: what’s your favourite book? From the first page of that book, I was captivated. Alderton has a talent for grabbing your attention from Page One and it was definitely the same with Ghosts.
Nina, the main character, appears to have things under control: successful career, lovely friends, a roof over her head. Except, as the narrative unfolds, you begin to see that for Nina – as well as the collection of friends and family she introduces along the way – that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I was absolutely obsessed with Nina as a character. She was funny, honest, raw. Even though I did have a few moments when I cringed or questioned what she was saying or doing, I couldn’t help but feel like she wasn’t a character on a page but somebody I could very easily have passed on the street or bonded over something in a club’s toilet.
I also really liked the secondary characters, from Nina’s friend Lola to her sweet, but slowly deteriorating, father. I loved how they complimented Nina’s character or, alternatively, how they changed and influenced the way she thought.
As someone who taps in and out of the dating world like a middle aged woman on Candy Crush (other games are available), I completely resonated with Nina’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Alderton is definitely correct about the kinds of people you see on the apps – at any age or any stage of your life – as is she about how connecting with people on dating apps is exhilarating, a little bit awkward and – when it fizzles out, in whatever strange term somebody writing for a women’s magazine will describe it (breadcrumbing, ghosting, whatever else) – it messes with your head, your heart, your everything.
Sometimes navigating the world we live in, and somehow going from the child watching Disney Channel after school to the young adult woman who knows the complete list of winners of The Great British Bake Off but hasn’t mastered the home of their own, steady full time work and loving partner bit, is scary. I’m so glad that Alderton is able to put into words what I, and I don’t doubt many other people, feel.
Ghosts isn’t just a book about the crazy world of dating apps. It’s a book about changing friendships, ageing and how people hold on to places, things and people- sometimes without even realising.
As with her first book, this one affected me from the first sentence on the first page to the very end. I’m not sure if people will feel the same as I do about this book but one thing I am sure about is that I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.
Ghosts will be published on 15th October 2020.
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