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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Good Material by Dolly Alderton

Alderton's literary fiction rom-com is a funny, poignant, and sometimes frustrating deep dive into the emotionally stunted main protagonist's extended heartache and the rehashing of key moments of his recent relationship.


I didn’t want to know all these words, charged with urgency and crisis. I didn’t feel like they related to me. Hadn’t I just turned twenty-one? Hadn’t I just left university? Hadn’t my life only just begun? I couldn’t fathom how I had got here so quickly and how I could be expected to make such enormous decisions while I still felt so young. How had this happened?

Andy and Jen were in love and living together.

But now Andy, a struggling stand-up comedian, is left reeling, trying to figure out what went wrong.

He's obsessed with trying to figure out why Jen broke up with him, and no amount of rehashing, deception regarding the manipulation of mental-health professionals, or mining for information is too much, in Andy's mind.

The breakup came out of the blue. He and Jen had just gone to Paris--they were blissfully happy! Weren't they?

Much of the story is told from Andy's point of view, and his capability for emotional growth is...limited. Baby steps are hard-won progress for the often-clueless main protagonist. He begins a Reasons Why I Loved Being with Jen list as well as a list of reasons why he's glad their relationship is over--tracing the funny, silly, nitpicky, ridiculous, and poignant moments they shared.

When Jen's perspective pops up late in the book, it adds valuable information and layers of depth to the story. Jen has long believed she is happiest on her own, and she has no plans to marry, to pair off, or to have a child. Her take on the events and dynamics of the past few years is valuable explanation for the reader.

Their best friends Avi and Jane feel like a correlating relationship to Andy and Jen's, and Avi and Jane's bickering, hectic, haggard states seem to serve as a potential warning sign to Andy and Jen of what life would look like for them if they followed societal expectations, settling down because they're at the right age, they adore each other, and it's a potentially logical next step.

The reader sees what a mismatch Jen and Andy are, despite their real affection for each other, but the clarity about their incompatibility is longer in coming to Andy, who remains wistful, hopeful, and heartbroken for much of the book.

I listened to Good Material as an audiobook.


Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Dolly Alderton is also the author of Everything I Know about Love, Ghosts, and Dear Dolly.

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