Green Dot

Madeleine Gray

Green Dot
Allen & Unwin
3 October 2023

Green Dot

Madeleine Gray

Hera Stephen is clawing through her mid-twenties, working as an underpaid comment moderator in an overly air-conditioned newsroom by day and kicking around Sydney with her two best friends by night. Instead of money or stability, she has so far accrued one ex-girlfriend, several hundred hangovers, and a dog-eared novel collection.

While everyone around her seems to have slipped effortlessly into adulthood, Hera has spent the years since school caught between feeling that she is purposefully rejecting traditional markers of success to forge a life of her own and wondering if she's actually just being left behind. Then she meets Arthur, an older, married colleague. Intoxicated by the promise of ordinary happiness he represents, Hera falls headlong into a workplace romance that everyone, including her, knows is doomed to fail.

Green Dot is witty, profound and painfully relatable in its exploration of solitude, desire, and the allure of chasing something that promises nothing. It is a must-read for fans of Meg Mason, Sally Rooney and Dolly Alderton.


What is it about human nature that is so enticed by the thought of chasing something we were never meant to have? Do we each have a forbidden fruit we shouldn’t taste? What happens when we don’t just taste it, but also devour it without looking back?

Hera has no idea what she wants. She’s in her mid-20s, still living with her dad, and works as an underpaid comment moderator, with no desire for any particular job. When she meets Arthur, an older, married colleague, she falls head over heels with their workplace affair and Arthur’s promise to leave his wife, when they can finally love each other with no shame, secrecy or money spent on cheap hostels. But the verity of Arthur’s promises becomes emptier as he continually postpones telling his wife the truth, saying that he just needs to ‘wait for the right time’.

As Hera’s love for Arthur deepens, she becomes obsessed with watching the green ‘active’ status dot on his Instagram fanatically, hoping to see a message from him that they can be together. I couldn’t help but compare it to Gatsby with the green light. These symbols convey an endless yearning and unwavering love, one’s hopes and dreams for the future, and a craving for another who wants you too, but will never leave what they have for you. For Hera, love is like donating blood, but the needle is never removed. Love can be a consuming and draining force – the mental and emotional exhaustion begs you to question how long one can survive in a one-sided relationship, one where you always give but never gain, and when it’s time to let it go.

This gorgeous, funny and painfully heartfelt novel is an ode to love, in all its traitorous, ugly, desperate, hopeful, and enchanting forms. I never wanted to say goodbye

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