But How Are You, Really

Ella Dawson

Book cover for But How Are You, Really
Book cover for But How Are You, Really

But How Are You, Really

But How Are You, Really

Ella Dawson

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A burned-out bisexual confronts old demons, her estranged chosen family, and the ex she maybe shouldn't have walked away from when she attends her five-year college reunion.

Charlotte Thorne does not want to go back to Hein University. Her life postcollege isn't what she expected--her career in media is stalled, her passion for drawing has fallen by the wayside, and she's done a terrible job keeping in touch with her queer chosen family since graduation day. Willingly spend a full weekend with her incredibly successful classmates? Hard pass.

But when her demanding boss, tech journalist Roger Ludermore, is invited to give the commencement address at this year's graduation--which falls on the same weekend as her five-year reunion--Charlotte has no choice but to return to campus.

The minute she steps foot on Hein property, the past comes crawling back in its glory and cringe: disco parties at the LGBTQIA+ program house, sleeping in a twin XL bed, and her chemistry with Reece Krueger, the hockey player she rebounded with after a traumatic breakup. Suddenly the weekend Charlotte has dreaded for months feels like an opportunity to go back in time. Determined to have some fun, Charlotte dodges her best friend's questions about her mental health, ignores her boss's constant Slack messages, and tries to avoid the truth about why she ghosted Reece five years ago. But can she really outrun her past and get her life together in seventy-two hours?

About the Author

Ella Dawson is an NYC-based sex and culture critic whose work has been published by Elle, Vox, and Women's Health, among others. She was once internet famous for having herpes, but that's a whole other story. Ella is proudly bisexual, very anxious, and aspires to adopt a kitten. Follow her on social media and on Patreon as @brosandprose.

Critical Reviews

Praise for But How Are You, Really

"Where to read it: On your alma mater's freshly mowed lawn. . . . A quintessentially millennial take on the return-to-campus novel, told with equal parts sensitivity and self-deprecation."
-Elle, "The Best New Books to Read This Summer"

"It's the perfect summer read for the girlies who pay taxes and pluck chin hairs but somehow still don't feel like adults."

"To find out that [Dawson has] written a novel that encapsulates an especially fraught era--a 27-year-old media worker's five-year college reunion weekend--is the book equivalent of an autoclick."
-Paste, "Most Anticipated Books of 2024"

"Dawson brings Charlotte's pain and passion to vivid life. It's a worthy addition to the shelf of campus novels."
-Publishers Weekly

"Dawson's lively debut features a diverse and relatable cast of characters with realistic issues that will be immediately recognizable to young millennials and Gen Zers. It's both a celebration of the uniqueness of the college years and a testament to the struggles new graduates face in the 'real world'."

"Ella Dawson's But How Are You, Really lives in my chest as a deep, aching blue. The whole time I was reading I had that expansive feeling like I could cry at any moment -- for sadness at some of what Charlotte has been through, but also for the sheer joyful triumph of watching Charlotte with her supportive friend group, her creative awakening as an artist, her hot and tender second chance with the love she wasn't ready for back in college. Sharply funny and observant, But How Are You, Really managed to make me nostalgic for places I've never been and people I've never met. It is easily one of the best books I've read in a long time."
-Alicia Thompson, USA Today bestselling author of With Love, from Cold World

"But How Are You, Really reminds us with humor and grace that growing up isn't something that happens all at once, but sloppily, gradually, beautifully. Dawson has a tender eye for detail, renders Charlotte and her world relatable, heartbreaking shades. A wonderful book that will have you aching for every one of your past selves."
-Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl

"Part journey to self-love, part love letter to college and chosen family, But How Are You, Really vividly captures the highs and lows of post-grad life. Dawson's debut is emotional and nostalgic, introspective and romantic, featuring a beloved cast of characters who come alive on the page."
-Carola Lovering, author of Tell Me Lies and Bye, Baby

"Moving, sexy, and painfully relatable, Ella Dawson deftly captures that lost and longing feeling we all experience in our twenties, particularly when faced with the ghosts of our past selves. Set at a college reunion, But How Are You, Really is a story of second chances and rediscovering one's self that will have you cringing, crying, and nodding in recognition. I absolutely adored it."
-Genevieve Wheeler, author of Adelaide

"Ella Dawson knows sexy angst and this book has it. It's a throwback full of funny characters, nuanced realistic heartbreak, and the power of recovery and friendship. Come for the hot sex, stay for the catharsis. Is it possible to craft a perfect 2018 period piece? Ella's done it."
-Gabe Dunn, New York Times bestselling author of I Hate Everyone But You

"But How Are You, Really is a delight to the senses. Dawson displays biting humor and poignant storytelling in a book that is shameless in all the best ways."
Andie J. Christopher, USA Today bestselling author

Publishing Information

Publisher: Dutton
Pub date: 2024-06-04
Length: 352 pages
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