BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Can’t Even’ by Anne Helen Petersen

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.

‘Can’t Even: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation‘ by Anne Helen Petersen

Although I expected a whining polemic about how tough millennials have it, I was wrong. This serious book presents lays out an intense indictment of our social and political systems and the impact on all of us, while focusing on what has gone so wrong for the young people, who only wanted to achieve what their parents had. The author states that burnout at work and at home are endemic now due to dependence on devices and on unfairly demanding employers. There’s intense condemnation of gig work, employer-dependent health insurance, insane college debt, the cost of home ownership, and on the lack of paid parental leave. Refreshingly, an acknowledgement of the even more severe problems for people of color is emphasized.

Quotes: “The promise that the free market would fix everything was a persuasive one in the ’80s and the ’90s, but left to its own devices, capitalism is not benevolent. Most history shows the complete divorce of the best interests of the corporation from the best interests of most employees.”

“American society is still arranged as if every family has a caretaker who stays home. Men still don’t value domestic labor as labor, and men predominate our legislative bodies and the vast majority of our corporations. They don’t treat contemporary parenting – the cost, the burnout – as a problem, no less a crisis, because they cannot, or refuse to, empathize with it. ”

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