Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller
Author: Emily Jeanne Miller
Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Pacific Northwest / Marriage / Infidelity / Fatherhood / Father-Son Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (6/12/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Eh -- it wasn't my kind of read.
Did I finish?: I did -- read it one afternoon while on the beach!
One-sentence summary: A father learns his marriage is in shambles and finds himself taking his son to his father's widow in hopes of finding some peace and sense of self.
Reading Challenges: E-books, NetGalley
Do I like the cover?: I do -- it captures the flavor of the story.
I'm reminded of...: Keith Cronin, Camille Noe Pagán
First line: My name is Logan Pyle.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow.
Why did I get this book?: I was curious about the viewpoint of the stay-at-home dad.
Review: This is one of those books that is probably lovely, but since it isn't my tastes, I just couldn't connect or really engage with it. Logan Pyle, a young (30ish?) father is married to Julie, a work-minded lawyer, living in a house he inherited from his father, raising his nearly four-year old while Julie works on the case of a lifetime. When Logan catches Julie with another man (not a spoiler; the jacket blurb shares this), he takes his son and flees to his father's widow, a woman only a few years older than him, and ostensibly learns about being a 'brand new human being' and stuff.
I had a few problems with this book, starting with the pacing. Based on the jacket blurb, I expected the moment of infidelity to occur early on but instead, I kept reading and reading and thinking, so when is it going to happen?. Since it's the motivating factor for Logan's leaving -- and thus the point of this novel -- I presumed we'd get to it quickly. The fact it arrived so late in the story really removed some of the book's oomph for me. I suspect Miller was trying to build a portrait of a marriage so we readers would be more invested in Logan's leaving but I just found the pacing slow.
After that, I found the plot pretty flimsy. Logan marries Julie after two weeks of sex because she's pregnant; when four years later he finds himself with a toddler and a wife who prefers work to him, I shrugged my shoulders. I think I was supposed to be moved by their young romance but instead, I felt sorry for Julie -- saddled with a loser husband who didn't find her groundbreaking legal work as compelling as she did -- and I just wanted to shake Logan. His response -- to flee with his son -- was as poorly thought out as his earlier life choices. Honestly, I just kept thinking that this couple is exactly the reason why we need safe, affordable abortion in this country. Okay, I'm being glib, but really, the whole time I was reading this, I just felt so sad for these two. There's no medical reason they had to rush into having a baby, and they didn't know each other, and their own careers were modified by their marriage...I don't know, it just felt like such a waste.
I would describe this as married chick lit, mabye, kind of formulaic, kind of inspirational, earnest, with some real meat -- definitely good summer fare -- and for the right kind of reader, probably a captivating read.
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