Logan Pyle is in his thirties and a dissertation shy of his doctorate. With grad school on the back burner, he finds himself in the midst of a struggling marriage to a distant wife, father to a regressing four-year-old, and son to a recently deceased father. When he stumbles upon his wife in a precarious situation with another man, he channels his inner cray cray, grabs his son, and sets off into the sunset on a journey back to himself and ultimately, his family.
Like I said earlier, the dad perspective was a welcome change of pace. Logan is a deeply flawed individual struggling to make sense out of his life and come to terms with his role as a father and his loss as a son. I thought Miller’s debut novel really excelled at showing the tough realities of family, marriage, and the crap life hands you out of nowhere. Plus, it was just nice to see a man struggling with depression and emotions because I was beginning to think they didn’t exist. Miller impressed me with her ability to write from a male perspective believably. I wonder if male readers would agree?
I also really appreciated the levity of the novel’s tone. The story really sat heavily on my conscious during my reading and gave me a lot to ponder because the situations raised and questions asked don’t have easy answers. For a while I worried that Miller would ruin the ambiguity of Logan’s problems with a storybook ending, but my fear was misplaced. The ending was left open-ended and fit perfectly within the realities of life.
What didn’t impress me so much was the pacing. I kept wondering when the big event was going to happen with Julie, Logan’s wife, since this event promised to be the climatic game changer. Half way in I was beginning to have my doubts and felt the novel was floundering a bit in Logan’s self-pity, but thankfully, just as I was really getting frustrated, Miller’s plotting picked up and the second half of the novel flowed well.
Character development was also hit and miss. Logan evolves beautifully, but no other character seemed to follow suit. Julie was the same terrible wife she was at the beginning and never seemed to take responsibility for her part in the shabby state of their marriage. I disliked her something fierce. I wasn’t sure if Miller meant us to think her a sympathetic character or just not super important. With a little something extra from her, Brand New Human Being would have been a near perfect debut.
Overall, the book was enjoyable and anyone who appreciates books about the struggles of family, marriage, and mid-life identity crisis will find something wonderful in Brand New Human Being. I can see great book club discussions being born from Miller’s pages. I’d recommend it to parents as well because I suspect Logan’s hang ups – failures and successes as a father – will resonate with readers who have similar experiences.
And guess what! I get to give away a copy thanks to the lovely people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! Just click the link below to enter. Winner will be selected on June 27, notified by email, and given 48 hours to respond! US and Canadian residents only and no P.O. boxes. Good Luck!
Click here to enter!
EMILY JEANNE MILLER has an MS from the environmental studies program at the University of Montana and an MFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She lives, writes, and teaches in Washington, D.C.
Thanks to the lovely people at TLC Book Tours for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review! Check out the other tour dates here! (Now closed!) Congrats to Allison on winning her own copy!