A Fresh View of Millenials

Jillian - Halle Butler

Disparaging portrayals of Millenials are in vogue right now, spawning a flood of novels with unlikeable and irredeemable 20-something characters.  Halle Butler brings a breath of fresh air into this endless conversation with her first novel, Jillian.  The book vacillates between the viewpoints of two anti-heroines who are prototypes of the stereotypical self-involved generation of young adults.  These two women are forced to work together in a small doctor’s office, despite their opposing temperaments and simmering animosity.  Jillian is the ultimate optimist with big dreams but no organization or grit to see any of them to fruition.  She races from goal to goal, seeking signs of destiny that she is compelled to embrace until a new one comes along.  Jillian is a single mother of a young child, despite still being childlike herself. Telling lies to keep up appearances, she even begins to believe her own fabrications.  Her officemate, Megan, despises Jillian and expresses this opinion in passive-aggressive behaviors followed by a litany of complaints to her pitiable boyfriend.  Megan presents herself as hard-edged and pessimistic, suspicious and anti-social.  She uses her barbed tone to protect herself, attempting to cover up her low self-esteem with an attitude of superiority. Megan drinks excessively and ostentatiously-what she relies on as a social lubricant ultimately isolates her.  In bursts of short vignettes, Butler presents external and internal viewpoints of her two main characters.  The reader gains insight into how others view them and how they view themselves.  Both women seem to be rudderless, headed for major meltdowns due to their inability to adjust to a world that refuses to accommodate them.  Jillian is a quirky novel that is at turns witty and tragic.  The reader feels sympathy for Jillian and Megan while simultaneously wincing with each bad decision and botched attempt at “adulting.” A unique and talented new voice, Halle Butler is an author worth following.