Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller

Title: Brand New Human Being
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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Comments

  1. Loved this line in your review "Honestly, I just kept thinking that this couple is exactly the reason why we need safe, affordable abortion in this country" Made me chuckle to myself and say - yip. Great honest review. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. !! Thank you for saying so -- I didn't mean that comment bitchily -- I sincerely felt sad for those two!

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  2. I think it's so sad when marriage is portrayed as an afterthought. I know it happens in life, sadly, but I don't enjoy such negative vibes in my precious fiction time. This one sounds like a pass for me, althought like you I think the perspective of a stay-at-home dad should have been really interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly -- I know folks who married for such reasons and have subsequently gotten divorced, lost out on promising careers, etc -- and as you say, it's just not something I want to explore in fiction. I do get the value of seeing a life choice I wouldn't make played out, but in this case, I didn't feel like there was anything transformative in Logan's experience.

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  3. Doesn't sound like this one is for me either, although I am fascinated by the life of a stay-at-home dad, as my hubby plans to be one. I hate when the central moment of a novel comes late, too.

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    Replies
    1. I'm a sucker for stay-at-home dads (so cute!) so the premise really intrigued me, but I just found the set up and follow through really disappointing. But that's me -- I think the book isn't intended to be hard or tough, you know -- it was meant to be a little fluffier and cuter, and I just wasn't in the mood for that.

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  4. Thanks for the review, I think I'll skip this one.

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  5. I think the fact that the pacing wasn't tight, and the big reveal came so late in the book that it would frustrate me. I do think that people don't take marriage seriously enough, and that having a child is not a reason to get married, so this would have equally annoyed me. I think this is a book that I will not be reading due to my personal viewpoints on the whole career/marriage/offspring thing. Thanks for the very honest and thought-provoking review today. It really made me think.

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    Replies
    1. Heather -- were this a book I saw at the library, I wouldn't have grabbed it -- I could see pretty quickly it wasn't my thing -- like you, the career/marriage/offspring debacle was grating -- I hate it when I want to shake characters and send them to therapy. The writing was good, and were I into the story I would have really dug this one, I think!

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  6. This doesn't sound like a book for me at all.

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  7. It's interesting how a blurb can mess up your expectations of a book--I've read quite a few where the "crux" event doesn't happen until half-way through, even though it's mentioned in the blurb. Like you, I always find myself waiting for that moment, and then I'm surprised when it happens so late.

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    1. Yes -- blurbs can be so bad! My best reads happen when I don't read a book's blurb -- opinion unshaped!

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  8. That's too bad it was so disappointing for you. I think sometimes a blurb can cause more harm than it does good because it raises a reader's expectations somewhat unfairly.

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    1. I've learned so much about the power -- and danger -- of blurbs since I've started book blogging. In this case, the blurb totally ruined the reading experience!

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  9. Darn, sounds like this book wasn't quite the right fit for you. Hopefully the next one you pick up will be a better fit.

    Thanks for your review for the tour.

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