Recent Reads feat. Dolly Alderton & Sara Barnard

What a shocker, I’m here to yell about and review some books for you. I’m a little bit rusty on the whole reviewing thing, so I’ve taken a running jump at my laptop and smashed my hands on the keys in the hopes these mini reviews will compel you to pick up a book and have a read. The first is the gorgeous memoir by Dolly Alderton, ‘Everything I Know About Love’, and the second is Sara Barnard’s recent YA title ‘Fierce Fragile Hearts’. Both were wonderful and have been awarded my elusive 5 star rating, no big deal. If that doesn’t entice you, hopefully what I have to say will!

‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

/5 stars

Published by Fig Tree!

A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way

When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.

Funny and embarrassingly relatable, I dived into this book expecting a few giggles and maybe a spark or two of jealousy that Alderton’s writing career had led her to writing a self-indulgent memoir before she’d even fully left her twenties. But, whilst writing any kind of memoir is going to always be somewhat self-indulgent, I wasn’t expecting this. The overwhelming, mostly heart-warming sense of nostalgia hidden in MSN conversations and the art of making your crush notice you; of growing up and feeling like you were losing your best friends to relationships whilst you were stuck in neutral. And the tragic, heartbreaking moments that had me almost losing my cool on the bus home from work, tears burning in my eyes. A declaration of love to the strong bond of female friendship, anyone in their twenties who feels a bit lost will find a home curling up into the pages of Dolly Alderton’s teens and twenties.

‘Fierce Fragile Hearts’ by Sara Barnard

/5 stars

Published by Macmillian!

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

If there’s one author that shines out and really just nails Young Adult fiction for me… Well, it’s Sara Barnard. This will be the third proof copy of one of her latest releases I was lucky enough to receive and get completely swept away with. And, oh boy, did I? Revisiting Suzanne at eighteen going on nineteen was so special and ‘Fierce Fragile Hearts’ felt like the character arc she deserved. It felt like we only really got to hold our hands up to the glass of who Suzanne was in ‘Beautiful Broken Things’, locked away by her own tragic childhood that only came to in fireworks and sadness towards the end. In this sort of sequel, though, we brushed up right against her mind, the authenticity of pain and trauma so unbearably difficult to read, but so sensitively and beautifully done. I loved the exploration of how friendships bend and strain during university and the touching camaraderie between Suzanne and Dilys. I’m a sucker for romance, though, and Suzanne’s approach to Matt was so careful and guarded. I felt it in my bones, that feeling of wanting nothing more than to let them fix you, but knowing you can only be truly healed by going it alone. Not only does Sara Barnard weave together the most intrinsically complex, beautiful characters, but she writes out emotions with such tender authenticity. I grew a real soft spot for Suzanne and her growth was such a pleasure to read. YA by Sara Barnard is a pleasure to read.

What are your recent reads you’d recommend?


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