The New Me by Halle Butler

The New Me

Halle Butler

Darkly hilarious and devastating, The New Me is a dizzying descent into the mind of a young woman trapped in the funhouse of American consumer culture.

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"[A] definitive work of millennial literature . . . wretchedly riveting." —Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

Girls Office Space My Year of Rest and Relaxation + anxious sweating = The New Me.” Entertainment Weekly

I'm still trying to make the dream possible: still might finish my cleaning project, still might sign up for that yoga class, still might, still might. I step into the shower and almost faint, an image of taking the day by the throat and bashing its head against the wall floating in my mind.

Thirty-year-old Millie just can't pull it together. She spends her days working a thankless temp job and her nights alone in her apartment, fixating on all the ways she might change her situation--her job, her attitude, her appearance, her life. Then she watches TV until she falls asleep, and the cycle begins again.

When the possibility of a full-time job offer arises, it seems to bring the better life she's envisioning within reach. But with it also comes the paralyzing realization, lurking just beneath the surface, of how hollow that vision has become. 

"Wretchedly riveting" (The New Yorker) and "masterfully cringe-inducing" (Chicago Tribune), The New Me is the must-read new novel by National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and Granta Best Young American novelist Halle Butler.


Advance Galley Reviews

I am not a millennial and I didn't particularly care to read about a millennial who isn't very likable. The dialogue was painfully juvenile and nothing happens in this book. Thankfully, it is a short book. Otherwise, I would have been more upset at the time wasted.

An interesting short read, Millie is a 30 year old women working as a temp, living on her own and the main character in this set piece of her life. The story revolves around how she sees the world and how others treat her, in her work and small social circle. It would have been funny if it wasn't so sad and I'm sure, true.

It is a compulsive read but not the most interesting one. I expected wit and humor but it just seemed dull. A commentary on the tediums of life perhaps. I definitely felt like at some point something big would happen and it just never really got there for me. It was a miss for me, but I could see it being great for someone else.

Although this was a disturbingly compulsive read, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never quite did. I think there were so many directions this story could have went in, but instead it was very one-note—depressing. Even Millie's supervisor, Karen, was sad and she was way more put together than Millie. At one point I thought Millie was really going to lose it and do something totally sensational, but she didn't and the story fell flat because of it. I will say if the author intended for the reader to feel Millie's sense of being trapped and stuck in a rut, she succeeded. There were a couple of relatable moments, but otherwise this book missed the mark for me. Thanks First to Read for letting me read this!

Millie is thirty years old and spends her days going to a thankless temp job at a designer furniture showroom, watching episodes of Forensic Files on her laptop, and fantasizing about what her new life would actually look like if she actually pulled herself together. She has a friend who is shallow and doesn’t really listen to her, an ex she thinks about too much, and all sorts of ideas for what her life will be like if the temp job becomes permanent. ‘The New Me’ is a perfect satiric send-up of all those little insecurities that have glimmered in the minds of many of us, and its glaring honesty is on every single page, and it’s also pretty funny. While the book is not an actual ‘stream of consciousness,’ it’s written in a way that demonstrates the way that Millie’s thoughts run from one to another, the way that one anxiety leads to another; this is the absolute genius of this short book, and it reads like the mind of a person trying to figure her crap out (and generally not managing to do so). Not everyone will jive will this style of writing though. The situations Millie finds herself in, like standing in the break room at work, or being at a party, and dissecting what’s going on, it’s all written so well, and it’s startling and frustrating and even maddening. There are also times when she’s completely oblivious to what is going on around her and she has high hopes for her future; at one point she’s completely got her head in the clouds and gets it all wrong. The banality of office work and modern life feature prominently and author Halle Butler paints a pretty depressing picture of it, and she does it so well it’s frightening. Fortunately for Millie, to balance out the uncertainty of work and the emptiness of a false friendship with Sarah, she has loving parents (the scenes with them are lovely) and they are very much her anchors. In the past, back in my twenties in between freelance film gigs, I did some temp and call center work of my own; this book very much brought back some miserable memories of that time for me. No wonder Millie does so much drinking. This is such a clever little book, honest if depressing, funny although somewhat cautionary (shred the paper when you’re asked to). Definitely a dark comedy.

I was really looking forward to reading this one, based on the description. What I found was not at all what was touted. I could not get into this one - it read nothing at all like the blurb... There were a few snarky lines that felt clever but mostly it felt "oh woe is me, I deserve better" whiny and that got old right quick. Perhaps I'm just not the target audience, but there wasn't anything here that I found entertaining - or anywhere near a dark comedy...

I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. This short novel was about a twenty-something young woman having trouble navigating the workplace and her relationships. I felt bad for her—she consistently thinks she’s having normal encounters but comes off to others as awkward and unkempt. I kept waiting for something to happen in what was essentially a character study, but nothing really did. Ultimately, there just wasn’t enough here for me, plot- or character-wise. I would skip this book and, for a similar feel, read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and/or My Year of Rest and Relaxation instead.

It was a great concept, but I felt the book was poorly executed. I could not finish it, it was too depressing and was difficult to follow.

Well, it's short. More of a novelette, or a very long short story. So there's that to be thankful for. Darkly hilarious and devastating? Not particularly funny, although Halle Butler's voice carries a hint of humour. As if you're spending time with a friend possessed of a dry wit and a masterful eye-roll. Trapped in the funhouse of American consumer culture? Didn't get that bit at all, at all. Who writes the cover copy? Did they even read the book? As best as I cal determine, thirty-year-old Millie is one of the many millenials who went to university and obtained a worthless degree that leaves them as unmarketable as the average secondary school graduate. She works for a temp agency and feels as if she is entitled to live in an expensive city like Chicago even though she doesn't earn enough money to pay her own rent. The parents help her along, perhaps to keep her from moving back home and bringing her whingeing with her. Most of the book is more of a "woe is me" sort of thing, the weight of the world on her shoulders and an absence of understanding in her skull. Millie is the girl you don't want to talk to at a party. As for a realization that her vision for her future is hollow, let us say that her vision is more an unrealistic cloud of a dream. Yet I do know people like Millie, the head-in-the-clouds dreamers who think that dreaming is enough to achieve the goal, like landing a lucrative job and sailing away on a solid career path. it's all the hard work and sacrifice that spoils the fun of living in the big city with a very high cost of living. There's a reason why we are advised to not envy our neighbors' goods. Just leads to depression, which Millie has in abundance. I finished the book. It was only the author's voice that kept things interesting.

This was one of the most depressing books I have ever read. It is not a book about a great tragedy, it is not filled with death, there are no momentous events in it but the I was very sad reading this book. It is about Millie, a woman in her mid-twenties with a temp job repeatedly trying and failing to move her life forward. She is stuck in her career, social life, and even hygiene. The end saves it a little because you get the sense that she is content and has found somewhere to rest at least. That being said, it is very well written with strong characterization and great description. I think the inertia of Millie’s life no matter what she tries just hit a bit close to home for me, although it did make me thankful for the riches I have.

I loved the idea of this book. I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately I didn't. I was so bored. I couldn't relate to Millie at all, which normally doesn't bother me, but there wasn't a single interesting thing about any of the characters in the first six chapters. After that I gave up.

This is an odd book to review. I liked the overall tone as I am a sarcastic, pessimist with occasional bouts of optimism and there was a certain element of the story I related to. The sense of being a 30-something and feeling directionless is something I feel on the daily. I appreciated the bleakness and realistic take on Millie's and other minor characters lives. However, there is a certain vapidness to Millie and the novel as a whole that makes it a bit difficult to get through. I relate to the feeling of aimlessness, but I am also self-reliant and have a difficult time reading about people who don't suck it up and do what they need to do. Do I love my job? No. Do I need to stay at my job so I can pay rent and bills? Yes. There was a certain point where my frustration with her/the novel almost made me set the book down. In a way, I wish there was more because at 200 pages there isn't a ton of depth, but on the flip side I don't think I could have taken 400 pages of this. All in all, I am giving this 3 stars. I did like it for the most part, but it was lacking depth and you don't learn enough about Millie and her issues to have any sort of emotional connection. I understand what the author was trying to do, but it was only marginally successful.

This book was just bland and boring. I did not care for any of the characters and cannot quite comprehend the purpose for its publication. Millie is completely uninspiring, she just exists. She cannot even hold down temp jobs. I don't understand the title because she didn't change at all. The ending was a slump and Millie is still basically a slug.

*Contains Spoilers* This book was a wild ride. It evoked a lot of emotion- frustration, anger, disgust, incredulity, and understanding. For anyone who has ever struggled, this is relatable and then some. It is very much a downer, but also very realistic for some. I like that it was left a bit open ended and didn't tie things up with a neat bow, because life isn't always neat. My only complaint is the abrupt switching of voices. I understand why it was done, but the way it was done interrupted the flow of the narrative.

A bit of a strange read. I did like it but it's hard to pinpoint why I do. It's a rather realistic look into Millie and her life. It's definitely worth the read.

Well....that was kind of a 'downer' of a read! The story follows a young woman, out in the working world....& she's just kind of plodding along.... doesn't seem to have much drive to do anything, whether it be a relationship, keeping her house picked up, or keeping a job..... That's how the whole book goes...following the path she takes. I think the reading portrayed/gave off the 'feeling' of 'just plodding along'.....it almost made you 'feel' that, so I suppose you could say that the author was successful in that! I imagine that most authors would like the reader to 'feel' something after finishing their book, instead of just closing the book & moving on without another thought!? The ending kind of surprised me, but I thought it worked! I'm glad I read it, but also glad that it was only 200 pages! I received a free e-ARC from a Penguin First-To-Read giveaway program, giving me the opportunity to read it & post my own fair & honest review.

What a strange book--yet, I couldn't put it down. This book had elements that reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) and Pretend I'm Dead (Jen Beagin) in that there is clearly something different about the main character and she encounters some rather interesting people in her life The book switched, rather abruptly in my opinion, to voices of other characters, which I was not a fan of. The ending also seemed abrupt and did not make much sense to me as well. I am on the fence about this book. While I enjoyed it, it is a bit of a weird book with a really weird main character. It is well-written and has a developed main character, it lacks a satisfying ending.

This is a tough book to review because I really liked it, while also being not sure what I liked so much about it. The main character, Millie, is at times relatable and maddening. If you are the kind of person who reads for inspiration and needs to really like the characters in a novel, this is probably not going to be a good fit for you. If you love compelling, character-driven stories with misanthropic characters, you may find this an enjoyably quick read. Another reason I couldn't dislike this book is the setting. I grew up in northern Illinois. Millie lives in Chicago and there's quite a few references to the city and the areas nearby. It's a nice little slice of home.

Thank you First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The New Me by Halle Butler. Millie can't catch a break in life and just when she thinks she on the right path something prevents her from it. While reading this book I felt bad for Millie and how she has tried and just can't make a go of anything. I do wish this book was a little longer as the ending seemed very abrupt and I was expecting there to more.

This book made me laugh out loud, which is very hard for me to do with any book. You felt sorry for Millie but at the same time wanted to root her on and hope she could catch a break. A great satire of the modern working world. A light read but a bit of an abrupt ending. I did enjoy this book. Thanks to First to Read for letting me read this early in exchange for an honest review.

 


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