I’ve always been interested in demographic cohorts and what makes each generation different than the one before it and the one after it.
In my latest release, Firecracker, a group of millennials living in The Triumph, an up-scale apartment building in Lincoln Park, bond over post-college confusion, career challenges, breakups, hookups and heartbreak, to find friendship, happiness and love.
When I did research on millennials and the kinds of problems they face in their lives, I learned there are definitely things other generations didn’t have to worry about—college debt, housing prices that make it impossible for them to own a home, climate change worries, and older generations that dismiss them as lazy and entitled.
For the generation who’s been told “you can be anything you want to be”, life doesn’t always turn out that way. Promised a world of success and opportunity, instilled with a desire to succeed and set themselves apart, they yearn to “arrive”. But what does it mean to “arrive”? Is it a beautiful apartment? Marriage and children? A fabulous career? And when will they get there?
Living their lives on social media means this group sees the illusion of the perfect lives everyone else is living, and it means trying to make their own lives look just as perfect. They’re all struggling to make it look like they’re not struggling. But connections aren’t made with other people over fake perfection–connections are made over shared struggles, and it takes courage to admit you don’t have all the answers, to admit you’re afraid, and to make yourself vulnerable.
Firecracker is about a former prom queen and cheerleader who married the college football star. Arden wasn’t supposed to lose her husband to suicide and have to start her life over at twenty-eight with nothing. Back in Chicago, she discovers her brother’s best friend lives across the hall from her. It’s her younger brother’s friend, reversing that trope, and he’s no longer the skinny kid with braces she remembers.
Tyler’s parents told him he could be anything he wanted, but when he decided to drop out of college to become a firefighter, it turned out that wasn’t what they wanted him to be. Tyler’s lost people he cares about too, which makes him a rescuer, only sometimes when you try to hard to protect people you run the risk of pushing them away.
But not everyone in a cohort is the same. Arden and Tyler discover they both hate it when people talk about everything wrong in the world being because of millennials, and stereotypes about them.
“We’re not all the same,” Arden said with an eye roll. “Some of us actually do want secure jobs we can stay at for the rest of our lives.”
Neither of them have it all figured out, but together they realize they’re not supposed to, and even though being an adult is hard, it’s easier when you’re not alone. The journey is where they learn the things that help them grow and prepare them for the destination…even if they’re not sure what the destination is, and even if the destination changes along the way.
Kelly Jamieson is a USA Today best-selling author of over fifty romance novels and novellas. Her writing has been described as “emotionally complex”, “sweet and satisfying” and “blisteringly sexy”. She likes her coffee black, her wine white (mostly!) and her heels high, and she loves hockey!
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