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Flo

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An unmissable debut novel perfect for fans of Megan Nolan, Elif Batuman, Naoise Dolan, and Louise Nealon

Flo is an extraordinary novel that took me by surprise at every turn. In it, Rosie Brooks has fashioned a heart-breaking exploration of loss and complicated grief. But it is also often a bleakly yet genuinely funny novel, which captures what it feels like to be a young woman in today’s world, an experience which Brooks’ eponymous heroine memorably compares with being ‘a living imagination-versus-reality meme’.


In keeping with the theme of ‘imagination-versus-reality’, in the novel’s opening chapter, Flo states that her latest relationship ended because her now ex-boyfriend (known acronymically as BHB) turns out, like ‘so many men’, to be ‘an arsehole’ – something which she had not factored into the plans she had made for her adult life and which the rest of the novel does little to disprove. Picking up on the ‘nice guy’ trope made famous in recent years by the film Promising Young Woman, for example, the novel’s ‘nice guy’ turns out to be as useless as the out and out ‘arsehole’ that is BHB. Arguably, the novel’s greatest strength lies in its female-centred exploration of modern romantic relationships, dating culture, and sex. Brooks manages to handle all these topics with both sensitivity and humour.


If readers come to Flo looking for ‘a beautiful, straightforward romance’, however, they are liable to be disappointed. In accordance with the current vogue for (re)viewing singlehood as a source of empowerment, the novel features excellent discussion of the sexual double standards surrounding singlehood for men and women within a heteronormative society. This discussion (or, as Freddie might call it, this ‘feminist agenda) never feels discordant or out of place, however, being instead seamlessly woven into the flow (excuse the pun!) of the novel itself. Ultimately, Flo demonstrates that being single is preferable to settling, regardless of your gender identity, and that our family and friendships can be so much more important and rewarding than our romantic relationships.


Overall, Flo is an unmissable emotional rollercoaster of a read. Rosie Brooks has pulled off quite a feat with her first novel. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Reviewed by

I have a BA and MA in English Literature from Durham University, and am currently working on a Creative Writing MA.

About the author

Teacher trying their hand at writing for the first time view profile

Published on February 24, 2022

70000 words

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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