Nonfiction About Millennials in Review: Can’t Even

September 20, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★★

Nonfiction About Millennials in Review: Can’t EvenTitle: Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
Author: Anne Helen Petersen
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was an informative, engaging history of work, but mostly it was cathartic to hear that I’m not alone.

I have to say, I really enjoyed reading this book about the systemic issues leading to millennial burnout. I didn’t relate to quite everything here. I think I may have a healthier relationship to social media than the author (of course, it’s not part of my job!). I’m also fortunate to be dealing with pretty low precarity in my life in terms of jobs and finances. I related to almost everything here though. It was incredibly cathartic to hear about other people who feel the way I do about life, work, and relationships. It was also affirming to see all the ways the system is stacked against millennials laid out so clearly. The author does an great job mixing memoir, interviews, and history together to give a complete picture of where we are and how we got here.

While the main thrust of the book was the experience of white, middle class Americans, the author mixed in a much broader range of perspectives. The millennials she interviews represent people of many races, genders, and sexualities. They also span the country in terms of geography, class, family situation, and occupation. Although this didn’t shift the focus of the book, it allowed the author to give a more complete overview of millennial experience. She also devoted at least a section of most chapters to talking about how people with marginalized identities and/or with lower income may be even more affected by systemic social issues.

I appreciated that the author didn’t wrap up with too specific a prescription for our problems. This is a large issue that will need many specific policy solutions. That would be a bit much for this slim, engaging read to tackle. Instead, the author highlights the important paradigm shifts she hopes this book will facilitate. Specifically, before policy change can happen, we all have to recognize that their are systemic issues and be willing to fight to make things better for everyone, not just ourselves.

8 Responses to “Nonfiction About Millennials in Review: Can’t Even”

    • Geoff W

      OH! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of The Anxiety Toolkit. I’m actually listed on her site as a reviewer as I read it pre-publication 😀

    • DoingDewey

      I thought it was really good, so I’d definitely recommend picking it up when you get a chance. I know I’ve slowed down a lot on requesting ARCs, because I often take a while to get to them and I feel much less guilty about that if they showed up without my asking for them.

      So far, I’m liking The Anxiety Toolkit pretty well. It seems focused on practical advice, which I appreciate. It has so many suggestions though, I think I might need to buy a copy instead of just getting it from the library, because I just can’t try all the things it suggest at once!

  1. Helen Murdoch

    I haven’t heard of this one before and, being a generation X, probably wouldn’t relate to most of it. But, I think it’s always good to read about others who are having similar experiences to you.

    • DoingDewey

      Yeah, I love that reading can be both a way to learn about people who are different from you and to find solidarity with people who are similar. I don’t do as much reading about people who are similar and I really enjoyed that about this book 🙂

  2. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I enjoyed this, though I did feel frustrated that the primary focus on people in my exact demographic — obviously it’s very relevant to me!, but I wish there had been a little more balance in terms of what trends were being discussed. Whew what a dumb generation to be in. 😛

    • DoingDewey

      It’s interesting, because the author is clearly trying to be intersectional and not just focus on the white, middle class millennial experience. She acknowledges that she’s biased towards focusing on that demographic, she interviews reasonably widely outside that demographic, and she notes some places where her analysis is limited. I was still left feeling the same way as you though – I’d have liked more on millennial experiences that aren’t exactly my own! I recognize this book couldn’t be all things to all people though, so maybe I’ll look for some authors who belong to other demographics and who are writing about millennials who are a little less like me 🙂

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