What are we even doing with our lives?
That's the question Dallas native Mary Dauterman and her co-author, BuzzFeed Animals editor Chelsea Marshall, pose in their new satirical children's book of the same name.
In the book — released by Harper Collins on Aug. 8 — the characters live in Digi Valley, where everyone is really, really busy. Not too busy to post about their busy lives, but, like, still really busy.
And to prove how busy they are, they all gather in Busy Bean, the town's "slow-drip, cruelty-free, pesticide-free" coffee shop where the characters use the free Wi-Fi to work on their side projects and freelance gigs. Their problems include not being able to monetize their Instagram accounts and living in small apartments for $4,000 per month.
"We kind of were looking at different kids' books in general and how they don't really discuss kind of the monotony of what it is to be an adult," says Dauterman, who illustrated the book. "Or kind of living in the modern-day world where we have access to all this information and all these cool things. But we just kind of look at our phones and kind of do the same thing. And so we wanted to poke fun at that."
Dauterman started the process of writing the book by drawing the characters, and then Marshall began writing the story based on friends who live in Brooklyn and San Francisco.
Children will enjoy the book for the pictures and the simple sentences, but millennials will enjoy the book for the dry, satirical and spot-on humor. The book frequently references the hilarity of appearing as someone different on social media, how more people freelance full-time to earn a living
and the idea of an exclusive preschool — one the parents applied to before their children were conceived.
The book might give baby boomers and other generations a clearer insight into the world of millennials, too.
"When my parents were visiting me, my dad said after he finished the book, 'I think I understand your life now. I hear you talk about all this stuff,'" Marshall says. "'But it makes so much more sense seeing it all. Like, this is how you feel about all these different things, and this is what it's like to live in such a crazy city.'"
And Dauterman says the concept is universal.
"It's definitely like riffing off of millennials," she says, "but the question of 'What are we even doing?' is just a very human question."
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The book is $9.77 on Amazon.