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 dark comedy of female rage" (Catherine Lacey) and a biting satire of life in the American workforce from a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and Granta Best Young American Novelist
 
“Masterfully cringe-inducing. . . [makes] the reader squirm and laugh out loud simultaneously.” —Chicago Tribune

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.


Advance Galley Reviews

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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