In ‘Ghosts,’ Dolly Alderton Nails the Millennial Experience

ghosts dolly alderton

All too often, anecdotes about millennials are, in a word, unflattering. Millennials, common opinion goes, are adult-children who are obsessed with unearned praise, skinny jeans and avocado toast. In her new book Ghosts, British podcaster and author Dolly Alderton has written a millennial-driven story that’s actually deeply relatable, instead of insulting. And it’s wonderful.

Nina Dean is a 32-year-old food writer living in north London. All but one of her closest friends—the lovable Lola—are either married with children, married and planning to have children soon or in committed relationships. (While hanging out with her close friend Katherine, Nina laments that she can “count at least three elephants now omnipresent in the room of our friendship from my side, and I’m sure Katherine could count at least three more of her own.”)

Still, as a single and successful woman, you get the impression that Nina isn’t one to define herself by her relationships. Dating is a chore, anyway. She notes, “Being a heterosexual woman who loved men meant being a translator for their emotions, a palliative nurse for their pride and a hostage negotiator for their egos.”

But then she downloads a Tinder-esque dating app and meets ruggedly handsome Max. The two hit it off immediately and begin an intense relationship in which Max tells Nina that he loves and sees a future with her. As her love life seems to flourish, though, her family life is in shambles. Her beloved father has been diagnosed with dementia and her mother—with whom Nina’s never been terribly close—is in the midst of a late-onset midlife crisis (she wants to change her name from Nancy to Mandy, for one).

But suddenly, in a turn that many a millennial will relate to, Max ghosts Nina out of nowhere. From here, Alderton examines the act of ghosting and the impact that being ghosted has on your psyche. It's sad and confusing and leaves you wondering what you could've done differently.

With hints of Bridget Jones (though thematically more serious), and shades of a younger Nora Ephron, Ghosts is a must-read for millennials looking to be seen and older and younger generations in search of a more accurate portrayal of the age group they love to roll their eyes at.

sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
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