I love the realism of Lauren Berry’s Living the Dream*. Until recently most young people assumed that they’d be in their dream job, a homeowner, married and thinking about a family by the age of 30. These days it’s highly likely that you’ll move back in with your parents for some time after graduation if you want to save for a deposit, or inevitably spend thousands renting. And that dream job? There are so many graduates competing for the same roles that you’ll probably find yourself settling. This is certainly the case for our protagonists, Emma and Clem.
Clem has just graduated from a top American film school and has moved back in with her mum and step-dad in London while she tries to sell her script. She’s piss-poor, in serious debt and has to go back to working the same bar job she was in pre-grad school. Emma works as a glorified PA in an advertising agency but blogs by night, hoping to make it as a writer. Both girls have big ambitions but just can’t seem to catch a break.
I found the young women to be relatable and a fairly accurate representation of what it’s like to be a twenty-something graduate, trying to work her way up the career ladder. At times, though, it felt like Berry was unsure of the tone she was trying to set. More adult storylines, such as abortion, are handled well, but others, such as drug use, felt a bit like an aside and not addressed fully.
If you’re in the postgraduate slump where life doesn’t feel quite as glitzy as you thought it would, Living the Dream is just the book for you! It’s available now.
*I received a copy of Living the Dream for review purposes.