Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller
Release date: 2012 / 272 pages
Synopsis(from Amazon): Meet Logan Pyle, a lapsed grad student and stay-at-home dad who’s holding it together by a thread. His father, Gus, has died; his wife, Julie, has grown distant; his four-year-old son has gone back to drinking from a bottle…
Review: I recently read a novel with a female protagonist, written by a male author who couldn’t quite manage to get the hang of a woman’s voice. On the contrary, Emily Jeanne Miller seems to have effortlessly created a consistent, authentic male voice in her debut novel. Now since I am a woman, I would love to have my impressions verified by a male reader who was unaware of the gender of the writer. But as far as I can tell, Miller has created a realistic male persona who, I can verify, is sympathetic, complex, and compelling.
The second most important character in this novel is also male — the protagonist’s four-year-old son — who is even more endearing than his father. Owen is in the uneviable albeit not uncommon position of trying to understand why the adults in his life are acting strangely. His grandfather has recently died, so much of the disharmony surrounding him involves grief, but the concept of mortality is too scary for him to even contemplate. In addition, Owen knows his parents are hiding key facts about his own birth (a heart defect that nearly killed him). His struggles are heart-wrenching at times, but even during the most difficult moments of the novel, the reader is convinced that Owen will be just fine.
As a first novel, Brand New Human Being includes three-dimensional characters and a narrative momentum that are enjoyable and promising. I believe most readers would enjoy getting to know Owen and his father and would be glad to have met a new author.
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Monday, June 11th: Between the Covers