Experienced by Kate Young

A young woman just out of the closet sets out to make up for a decade's worth of lost experiences in this fizzing romcom debut from Kate Young

Book Review by Laila Ghaffar | 20 May 2024
  • Experienced by Kate Young
Book title: Experienced
Author: Kate Young

The premise of Experienced by Kate Young is simple: Bette has recently come out, after ten years in the closet. She delights in the ease and joy of her relationship with her girlfriend Mei. But Bette finds herself floundering when Mei suggests that they separate for three months so that she can catch up on a decade worth of sexual experiences, as Young transforms this familiar plotline into a deliciously awkward personal saga. 

Experienced could be cast as a coming-of-age novel, but we are told from the outset that Bette is thirty years old. It is refreshing and genuinely reassuring to read about the sexual identity crisis of a protagonist on the wrong side of 25. This book stands as proof and a comfort to all who, like Bette, are still working things out after their twenties. 

While Experienced is delightful in so many ways, Young stumbles at the ending: we can see Bette’s true love on the horizon far too early, so we never feel the true threat of her despair or confusion. But despite all this, the joy of Experienced is in large part due to Young’s exploration of the myriad of ways in which love can manifest. From the intimate, domestic love shared between housemates to the sparkling giddiness of a new romantic love, Experienced is testament to all the ridiculous, testing and deeply affirming aspects of love.

4th Estate, 6 Jun