The New Me is a fascinating book. Fascinating!
It follows Millie, a 30-year-old woman who has only ever worked temp jobs, whose apartment is subsidized by her parents, and who often reflects on what she’ll do to improve her life after some great windfall or another falls into her lap with no real effort on her part.
I read it as a dark character study, much like one of my favorite books, Eat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter. But reviewer Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker brilliantly writes that it “feels like a definitive work of millennial literature.”
Yikes. God help us all if that’s the case. But the reviewer makes a very good case for it.
It’s probably no coincidence, in fact, that our main character’s name is “Millie.” I’m undecided personally on if it’s truly supposed to be a portrait definitive of an entire generation or just a window into a certain subset of age-agnostic people. Entitled, self-centered people with arrested development.
Personally, I want to be more optimistic about people. But boy, is it fun to read a dark novel.
Let me take a moment to talk again about unlikable characters. It’s easy to strongly dislike a character, then transfer that dislike on to the book itself. Writing such a complex, complicated, and wonderfully flawed person is a brilliant stroke by the author, only to be misunderstood by some readers.
I love a meaty character study of an incredibly flawed person. And Millie delivers on that front. Big time.
The New Me
Published March 2019