just a little“I had noticed that all I did was do things and then immediately regret them.”

I first read this book many years ago. Given the date it came out, I must have been eighteen or nineteen, perhaps. Over the following years, it remained on my shelf and if I ever caught sight of it, I smiled and remembered something funny from it. It was a cute, good book. Time passed and more and more scenes slipped from my memory, until earlier this year when my psychologist friend, who had reached a point where her usual crime novels had saturated her brain so much that she couldn’t close her eyes without seeing some dismembered cadaver, asked if I could recommend a book in which no one was disembowelled and was overall a bit lighter. This book immediately came to mind.

Trouble was, by this point, I couldn’t remember anything about it, just that I had enjoyed it. Trusting my own distant judgment, she borrowed it and then reported back that she had loved it too. So, when I started feeling blue recently, as discussed in my previous post, I figured that despite the long list of books waiting to be read for the first time, I would go back and see if a second read would perk me up.

It did.

This is the story of Edie Dudman, 21-year-old anxious mess who keeps trying to do so many different things that she ends up doing nothing at all. Armed with a part-time job in a bakery, a recently engaged flatmate, a boyfriend who doesn’t seem interested anymore and an elderly neighbour with bad body odour, she is ready to take on the world, attend some evening classes and finally do something with her life. Once she’s watched one more episode of Knots Landing.

Edie is one of nature’s worriers, fretting about absolutely everything and getting ahead of herself in all aspects of her life. She eventually manages to sign up to a photography evening class and there she meets Ralph, eccentric artist who wants to live in a water tank and might just be the right kind of man for her. But she clings to the notion that Steve, her current sort-of-boyfriend, will want to rekindle the magic, although it’s not looking promising as he’s just bought her a sandwich maker for her 21st birthday.

Despite her worries and constant habit of making mountains out of molehills (she rehearses conversations in her head and makes them appear bigger issues than they really are), she is fundamentally a good heart. Slightly lost and lonely, confused and not knowing what she wants in her life, she struggles on regardless. Her pains are familiar to many of us, who reach our early twenties and find that adulthood isn’t what we thought it was going to be, but there aren’t any refunds. It’s a funny book, but with serious, painful moments too – again, just like life, really.

The novel is made all the more adorable by constant doodles of the characters and events; particularly funny are the ones of Edie herself, who always seems to have a blank, shocked look on her face. The secondary characters are also brilliant, including Edie’s television addict mother, Lucille, the flatmate who has it all together, and Buster, Edie’s ex-boyfriend who still hangs around hoping that maybe something will happen again.

It’s a beautiful story of hope, awkwardness, love, growing up (sometimes against our will), bad birthdays and how life never goes the way you think it will. There are some wonderful comments about the difficulty with loving someone you don’t necessarily like, and it also stands out as being one of the few books I’ve read with a bisexual character who isn’t immediately shuttled into a gay or straight label, which is refreshing.

If you’ve ever felt lost or confused, then Edie Dudman is here to show you that you are most definitely not alone.