Review: Everything I Know About Love

To say that this book is addictive is an understatement. It’s a warm, witty and comfortable read that allowed me to lose an entire afternoon under my duvet as I tore through it, cover to cover.

Dolly Alderton, through her writing, becomes the knowledgeable big sister of every reader. She has a lifetime of experience to advise with. Made up of lessons learned from drunken mistakes that cost a £200 taxi ride to a party across the country, to true self-reflection learned from hours of therapy. We readers grow with her, from teenage misconceptions to adult breakthroughs on the edge of thirty. This book is thoroughly heartwarming and hilarious.

The stigma around mental health and addiction is broken within her writing. Dolly (I feel like we should be on a first-name basis) details the psyche behind the link between disordered eating and a sense of a lack of control in her youth. As well as her unhealthy relationship with drinking and the general ups and downs of mental health. She allows herself to be vulnerable to the reader, in order to teach us. From her, we can learn to self-reflect and grow as people.

We learn about death and loss, and how they are intrinsically linked with love. We have to come to terms with how our expectations do not often line up with reality, especially those we make up as teens or in our early twenties. Personally, as a 20-year-old student, I found the time progression of this memoir of special significance.

I found myself relating to the most embarrassing and juvenile tales of teenage Dolly, despite our age gap. I could look back on my own MSN messenger days and childish misconceptions about love and sex and their importance. But as the book went on Dolly grew older than me, dealt with more ‘adult’ issues than I have and developed throughout and past the decade that I have only just stepped into. This, I thoroughly enjoyed.

The primary lessons I drew from this book were first, that it takes time, effort and serious work for breakthroughs with your mental health. That getting to the point where you truly believe that you are enough is a tiring uphill journey, but entirely worth it. Second, that love is not just red roses and diamond rings. Love is friendship and trust. Dolly truly writes of how friendships, especially female friendships, have magic in them. I hope that readers of Everything I Know About Love can truly understand the value and significance of their friends and see them, in a way, as some of the great loves of their lives. 

On reflection, I do wish Dolly had directly addressed how love from family members can be just as important and impactful as both platonic and romantic love in her concluding thoughts as it was discussed throughout the memoir itself. But there is always want for things unmentioned in a book, especially writings reliant so heavily on the author’s personal experiences.

The ending of this modern guide to love is of great importance because it isn’t concluded by Dolly married with 2.5 kids in the suburbs, as some sort of ultimate goal of true love. She is single and newly thirty but most importantly surrounded by love as well as happier and more optimistic for the endless years to come.

I thoroughly recommended Everything I Know About Love, her writing is so enjoyable and informal. I can even forgive her for writing ‘York University’ in lieu of ‘University of York’ twice (p50 and p199). She truly creates the atmosphere that you are talking with a life-long friend or big sister on the couch with a cuppa. Funny stories, mixed with short recipes (that hangover mac and cheese looks amazing), and the iconic ‘everything I know about love as a teen/twenty-five/thirty’, the bad date diaries, and lists of her deepest fears make up a fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable and extremely well written realistic memoir that is heartwarming and leads to inspire women and promote the magic of the love we gain through friendships.

Featured image by Holly Palmer