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 social media-era dating.
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 technology is playing 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 also 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 her hometown in the British countryside, is a flawed, three-dimensional character you’ll root for through every turn. But 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 particularly 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. In one scene, Sarah finds herself reading a book in a wonderfully peaceful country scene. “It turned out that I still loved reading,” she reminds herself.
Another big truth: 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.