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CAN'T EVEN by Anne Helen Petersen Kirkus Star


How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

by Anne Helen Petersen

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-358-31507-0
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Why millennials are struggling to catch up to the prosperity enjoyed by previous generations.

Stress, student debt, increasing income inequality, the need to achieve and fill every moment of time with an activity or endeavor that will look good on a CV—these are just some of the reasons why the millennial generation is having a difficult time maintaining the same level of success as the boomers. In articulate and persuasive prose, former Buzzfeed senior culture writer Petersen delivers a cogent explanation of the millennial landscape, incorporating in-depth research, interviews, and her own experiences to define the problems that millennials face as they attempt to live up to high, occasionally near-impossible expectations. “We were raised to believe that if we worked hard enough, we could win the system—of American capitalism and meritocracy—or at least live comfortably within it,” writes the author. “But something happened in the late 2010s. We looked up from our work and realized, there’s no winning the system when the system itself is broken. We’re the first generation since the Great Depression where many of us will find ourselves worse off than our parents. The overarching trend of upward mobility has finally reversed itself, smack dab into the prime earning years of our lives.” Petersen provides an appropriate amount of historical context—especially regarding demographics, economics, and labor issues—from the Great Depression to the present, which allows readers to clearly see the shift people have undergone in their thinking about what constitutes success or happiness. This chronicle of changes is well worth reading, as the author explains so much about life in the age of Trump. Throw in the candid discussions by millennials—most of whom are burned out and can’t find satisfaction in their lives, even as they work diligently—and the book becomes an even more useful and insightful series of lessons.

A well-researched and -rendered analysis of why so many millennials feel overwhelmed despite their best efforts.