First of all, this is a great book to read. I’m in my early 50s, so this is not my era at all, but I was so powerfully reminded of my late teens, early 20s, when it was OK to be crazy, over the top, excessive. Not that I went as far as Dolly does. I don’t think many people go as far as Dolly does.
So there’s lots of fun – Dolly is lots of fun, she’s an instant party, everybody expects her to be wild and crazy and over-the-top hedonistic, but there’s sadness, too. She becomes a victim of her own craziness. That bit is interesting, too. She takes responsibility for her actions, she never blames anybody else – she’s been through therapy, so I guess some of that comes from that period of self examination – but I can’t help thinking she’s a little too hard on herself. She obviously inspires love and loyalty in her close, long-standing friendship group, and that was the bit that gave me hope all the way through the book.
Dolly, of course, makes it through, and is standing on the far shore of that chaos, looking back as she writes. It’s fascinating to watch her grow. I liked the lists of things she’d learned, and the way they change as she matures and becomes more experienced.
At first there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of love in this book. There was plenty of sex, plenty of good times, plenty of fun, but not a lot of love. By the end Dolly – and the reader – realise that the love has always been there, but it’s the quiet, continuing love of her friends that has been the underlying foundation for her life.
I wondered about giving this to my teenage daughter, maybe with the idea that she could read it and realise she didn’t have to go through all that chaos to learn what love is all about, but maybe we all have to go through a bit of that (but not as much as Dolly, please!) and learn it for ourselves.