GREEN DOT by Madeleine Gray

I love when authors take common scenarios and, thanks to introspective, detailed writing, turn them into unique stories that feel fresh and original. That’s the case with Green Dot by Madeleine Gray. Hera is an aimless twentysomething woman living in Sydney who takes a job as a discussion moderator for an online news site. Her job is soulless and boring, but a few days in, she meets an older journalist who sits on the other side of a cubicle wall. They develop a flirtation that evolves over text into a deeper relationship. Not a new fact pattern, to be sure, but in Gray’s hands, it was funny, moving and entirely memorable.

Why I picked it up: Green Dot got on my radar this spring, and I immediately put a library hold on it. Once I finally started reading it, it was difficult to put down.

Hera isn’t an immediately likable character – she’s smug, self-absorbed and sarcastic, whiling away her days without ambition or direction. But when she falls for Arthur, who of course turns out to be married, you find yourself rooting for her anyway. Gray does a great job of capturing so many aspects of early adulthood – the rootlessness and yearning – and makes Hera sympathetic along the way. Even if you know where this relationship is heading, the various turns it takes are still heartbreaking. Also, like her protagonist, Gray’s writing is sharp and funny, which gives this character-driven novel a distinctive, compelling voice.

Green Dot won’t be for everyone, especially readers who don’t like infidelity as a plot, but I recommend it for fans of Normal People, Ghosts or The Husbands who like messy relationships and the jolt of recognition when they encounter their younger selves in the pages of a novel. I can’t wait to see what Gray writes next.

Green Dot was the 17th book of 2024.