Review: Dolly Alderton’s ‘Everything I Know About Love’ is an essential read for people in their 20s

Front cover of the book everything i know about love by dolly alderton
Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

Don’t be fooled by the scribbles on the cover. Although this book is definitely about parties, friends, jobs and life, it’s also about love and the love you find when navigating your 20s.

Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Dolly Alderton presents her now international bestselling memoir “Everything I Know About Love,” which reveals embarrassing stories and fun memories, as well as her struggles with depression, anxiety, grief, heartbreak and simply being lost in her 20s.

Scattered with personal stories, recipes and recollections of bad dates and awkward therapy sessions, Alderton’s memoir provides relateable entertainment and helpful insight for every young adult. 

Alderton addresses her constant struggles with her mental health and shares details of her developing and overcoming an eating disorder, her struggles with anxiety and depression and her eventual crisis of defining her life as a young adult.

“In short, you are having an existential crisis,” Alderton wrote. “You are realizing the mundanity of life. You are finally understanding how little point there is to anything. You are moving out of the realm of fantasy ‘when I grow up’ and adjusting to the reality that you’re there; it’s happening.”

Alderton begins her memoir by sharing stories from her years in university living with her best friends. She often references childhood memories that seemed brief and insignificant in the moment, but over time proved themselves very influential on her identity.

The book is laced with a very casual tone of voice that gives a profound sense of relativity, even when Alderton is sharing details of an otherwise very specific memory. This gives the book a very unique ability to give any reader a strong sense of personal connection to her stories. 

She also shares her first experience of falling in love and in turn, her first heartbreak. In her pursuit of defining “love” throughout the memoir, Alderton recognizes all the forms of heartbreak she experienced, stating, “It takes a village to mend a broken heart.” 

Alderton recounts her negative coping mechanisms that led to self sabotage, her desire to remove herself from parts of her life that once made her happy and her loss of her sense of self, saying, “The external scenery had changed, but the internal stuff was exactly the same: I was anxious, restless, and self loathing.”

Front cover of the book everything i know about love by dolly alderton
[Photo of Dolly Alderton’s international bestseller “Everything I Know About Love.”
Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

Alderton is consistent in revealing very personal experiences including the details of her first therapy session and her feelings of guilt, apprehension and anxiety that came from audibly sharing her difficult experiences.

When reflecting on her experiences in therapy Alderton writes, “It would be a lie to say I think I will ever be entirely free of what happened in that time, which is something no one ever tells you.”

Alderton provides insightful commentary that I found brought a sense of comfort while reading about deep emotional topics.

“Everything I Know About Love” perfectly balances humor and heart to capture the difficult yet hopeful uncertainties experienced in early adulthood. 

“Yes, my twenties had been rife with anxiety, insecurity, and bad choices, but only recognized at the exit that there had been a comforting loosey-gooseyness to the whole thing. There was no specific requirement for being a twenty something–it’s what I found so disorienting about the experience.”

Even within the personal specificity that creates the unique story illustrated in the memoir, Alderton reigns consistent in casting light upon very intrinsic experiences of a young adult, which makes this memoir a beneficial read to anyone struggling in their 20s.

Alderton begins to wrap up her memoir with a recount of her 28th birthday, with which she provides a list titled, “Twenty-Eight lessons learned in Twenty-Eight Years,” which includes some staple fashion advice, interesting statistics and hopeful commentary the reader can hold onto for inspiration. 

These much more insignificant and light-hearted tokens of advice paired so casually with the discussion of heavy topics illustrates the perfect balance of humor and heart Alderton achieves in this memoir. 

Throughout the memoir Alderton struggles with defining her identity and who she is. She finds herself stuck between the person she is and the person she wants to be, and this crisis infiltrates every part of her life. 

“Be the person you wish you could be, not the person you are doomed to be. Let yourself run away with your feelings. You were made so that someone could love you. Let them love you.”

The theme of love is of course prevalent throughout the book and Alderton’s concluding definition of love reveals an interesting perspective on the most important love you find in your 20s.

“You have so much to gain and learn from this kind of love. You can carry it with you forever. Keep it as close as you can.” 

Read “Everything I Know About Love” with an open heart and open mind to discover the presence of this love in your own life, and be prepared for both tears and laughs along the way.

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