Monday, May 14, 2012
A Promising Beginning for a First Time Novelist
Emily Jeanne Miller's first novel, "Brand New Human Being," is a richly textured and complex story of a troubled marriage within a convoluted extended family. Logan Pyle and his wife, Julie, are struggling with balancing his failing family business, her burgeoning legal career, their emotionally regressed four-year-old son and a growing chasm of distance in their marriage.
What I loved most about this book is the author's finely tuned sense of the kinds of conversations and small gestures and non-verbal signals that make up any relationship - especially one that is struggling to stay alive. The narrative is even-handed, in that I sometimes found myself siding with Julie and at other times taking Logan's side.
Logan's Dad, Gus, recently deceased, hovers over the family, and his widow, Logan's step-mother, Bennie, who is too close to his own age for comfort, plays an important and ambivalent role in the family constellation.
There are no easy answers or facile solutions offered as the threads of the story come together. The reader comes to feel that Logan and Julie will continue to struggle after their separation and tentative reunion. Yet there is a reasonable expectation of hope that everything will turn out - not perfectly - but alright.