‘Ghosted’ taps into spirit of mil­len­ni­als

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Han­nah Yasharoff USA TO­DAY

We all want to be­lieve there’s a good rea­son the per­son we were dat­ing sud­denly went AWOL.

In Rosie Walsh’s ter­rific new novel “Ghosted” (Pamela Dor­man/Vik­ing, 352 pp., ★★★★), there just might be.

Sarah Mackey’s ghost­ing story is cra­zier than all the rest. She meets Ed­die while vis­it­ing her English home­town and they im­me­di­ately share a pow­er­ful con­nec­tion, so when he sud­denly stops re­turn­ing her mes­sages, she knows some­thing is wrong. Ig­nor­ing friends who ar­gue she’s just been “ghosted,” Sarah sets out to find out the truth: And it’s wilder than she could have imag­ined.

Here are five rea­sons not to miss this great read:

1 It smartly cri­tiques dat­ing in the so­cial me­dia era.

Sarah and Ed­die are both push­ing 40, but Walsh ad­dresses is­sues that feel spe­cific to the millennial dat­ing scene. The book is lit­tered with ref­er­ences to Face­book, Tin­der and Uber in a way that feels au­then­tic, not pan­der­ing.

Af­ter not hear­ing from Ed­die for a few days, Sarah laments all of the ways she tried in vain to con­tact him. “What was I think­ing?” she asks her child­hood friend, Tommy.

“A silent phone brings out the very worst in us,” he re­sponds.

Later, she tells her grand­fa­ther about Ed­die and ex­plains the role of tech­nol­ogy in their seem­ingly lost re­la­tion­ship.

“Luck­ily you were spared the in­dig­ni­ties of on­line stalk­ing, grow­ing up when you did,” Sarah tells her grand­fa­ther. “But it’s not a nice ex­pe­ri­ence. It never de­liv­ers what you’re hop­ing for . ... It never gives you con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion.”

But the dis­cus­sion be­tween the gen­er­a­tions al­lows Walsh to point out that there are fewer dif­fer­ences be­tween dat­ing to­day and in the past than we care to ad­mit.

2 It fea­tures dy­namic supporting char­ac­ters.

Sarah, a Los An­ge­les trans­plant vis­it­ing the Bri­tish coun­try­side, is a flawed, three-di­men­sional char­ac­ter you’ll root for through ev­ery turn. And Walsh doesn’t skimp on mak­ing ev­ery­one around her just as in­ter­est­ing. The young son of one of Sarah’s best friends is adorably can­did and ac­ci­den­tally pro­found. Sarah’s grand­fa­ther shares great in­sight as well.

3 It has a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing.

The ti­tle refers to a triv­ial 21st-cen­tury dat­ing prob­lem, but the story cov­ers much more. Drama, mys­tery, hu­mor, ro­mance; you name it, it’s here. Walsh doesn’t over­com­pli­cate any­thing, though – this is a sim­ple and grip­ping story that can be en­joyed on the beach or your morn­ing com­mute.

4 Just when you think the plot is about to zig, it zags.

This is an “ac­ci­den­tally stayed up un­til 4 a.m. be­cause it’s im­pos­si­ble to put down” kind of novel. One shock­ing twist is al­most “Black Mir­ror”-es­que. The ex­cite­ment is re­lent­less.

5 Walsh re­lays truths you didn’t know you felt.

There are a hand­ful of nuggets in “Ghosted” that don’t per­tain to the main story line but ex­plain in­her­ent truths about life.

Though so­cial me­dia can am­plify the ways we dis­agree with one an­other, “Ghosted” is a thought­ful re­minder that some­times the world is smaller and more con­nected than we think.

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