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Brand New Human Being – Emily Jean Miller

June 27, 2012

Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
272 pages
ISBN: 9780547734361
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Despite (or perhaps because of) my existentialist nature, I am wholeheartedly in agreement with that old bit about a person “walking a mile in Sue or Joe’s shoes” before passing judgement. It’s not literal. You can’t actually strap on another person’s life or even perceived circumstance and proceed as if each of our lives are objective and understandable from without.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, this early in the morning (phew!) is that even if we think we understand a person’s motives in those “huh, I wouldn’t do that; what was he/she thinking?” moments and go about judging him or her upon our own assumptions, we, as outsiders, will never truly understand what makes other people tick.

When we begin to understand that (“that” being that sometimes the best understanding is understanding that you’re just not going to understand) and give others a little bit of a margin, we allow people to heal, reinvent and come back home.

This principle is the main ball in play throughout Emily Jean Miller’s Brand New Human Being, where, looking in on the lives of our central players is a bit like coming across a post-tornado hazard zone.

Logan has all but abandoned his PhD quest and life’s work in Boston to better suit his young family’s needs. When salt is poured in his wounds in the form of his beloved father passing away, Logan comes apart at the seams. A celebrity on the midwest mining circuit, his father left behind a substantial amount of wreckage in his departure, all of which continue to pile up on Logan’s already taxed shoulders.

His wife, Julie, tries her best to leave her work at the office when she’s with her family but it’s true what they say: an attorney’s work is never done. Add to that her husband’s recent devastating grief and her own compulsion to be over involved in their son’s school and she is the picture of a ticking time bomb about to blow.

Their nearly five-year old son, Owen, is sweet, bright and perceptive but recently, he has found his way back to thumb-sucking, bottle drinking and baby babble. As Logan and Julie’s “storefront” to the rest of the world or at least at his prestigious Montessori school, Owen is, needless to say, not representing his mom and pop well. Soon, in spite of Julie’s hard work, he and his parents are in danger of falling into waters of the tightly knit, tightly wound, hover-parent clan that circles potential weakness like a pod of sharks.

When the final thread is pulled from the sweater, all three come tumbling down to the bottom of despair.
That thread, we can also call “that time when Julie was caught kissing another dad at a kid’s birthday party”.

Logan snaps, grabs Owen and hightails it for his step Mom’s lake house. Tension is thick in that relationship, as well, though, and there is simply no rest for the weary.

Eventually, though, every situation, every person, must hit their own subjective form of rock bottom. for, hey, after all, what is a disaster without the requisite silver lining?

Though this is a small book (well under three hundred pages), Emily Jean Miller packs a lot of story and twice as much emotion between the pages. When I finished the last page, I had to take a second look at the whole book because it just didn’t seem possible to fit that much drama and action and redemption into such a tiny little thing.

I had a great time with this and I highly recommend it as a pick, this summer.

About Emily Jeanne Miller

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.

Connect with Emily at her website.

Emily Jeanne Miller’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 11th:  Between the Covers

Tuesday, June 12th:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Wednesday, June 13th:  A Library of My Own

Monday, June 18th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, June 20th:  The Blog of Litwits

Thursday, June 21st:  Southern Girl Reads

Monday, June 25th:  Knowing the Difference

Wednesday, June 27th:  I Write in Books

Friday, June 29th:  Colloquium (guest post)

Saturday, June 30th:  Colloquium (review)

Monday, July 2nd:  Life in Review

Tuesday, July 3rd:  Simply Stacie

Thursday, July 5th:  Unabridged Chick

Monday, July 9th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 11th:  Bookfan

Thursday, July 12th:  Girls Just Reading

Friday, July 13th:  Book Club Classics!

Monday, July 16th:  A Novel Source

Wednesday, July 18th:  A Patchwork of Books

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2012 3:18 pm

    This DOES sound like a great summer read – short but with tons of drama.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.


  1. Life in Review: “Brand New Human Being” by Emily Jeanne Miller + Giveaway! « Life In Review

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