Author: Anne Helen Petersen
Genre: Multicultural Interest
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Book Description: An incendiary examination of burnout in millennials—the cultural shifts that got us here, the pressures that sustain it, and the need for drastic change
Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.
While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.
Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Review: Can’t Even takes on the millennial generation and how they are going through burnout in the workplace. Personally, I was born just prior to the Millennial Generation, and this is a topic I have had trouble understanding. I definitely did not have “helicopter” parents, but saw my cousins who grew up with that mentality. This book covers some themes and why Millennials are the way they are.
After reading this, I have to say I have a better understanding of what the generation means. In school, they worked hard to get perfect grades, pump up their resume with extra-curricular activities. They went into the work place making less money than their parents did in equivalent times. Many have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They are working so hard with the mentality to be perfect and they are burning out.
Petersen wrote a candid book, that delves into the minds of millennials, which she herself is. She has brought a broad range of people to the conversation, to share their experiences. She also caps this book from the perspective of the parents.
I am glad I had the opportunity to read this. I probably wouldn’t have read this if it had not been recommended to me. I have always shied away from millennial literature, but now that I have a better understanding, I feel like I might be willing to take a chance. I have learned they are a super hard working generation, but at times are super unhappy because of how they were raised. It will definitely make me more accepting of things I cannot change.
Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.