The Fallback Plan

Melville House. Jan. 2012. c.208p. ISBN 9781612190426. pap. $14.95. F
A new genre has emerged in current popular culture of slacker stories about twenty-somethings—mostly young men—who lack any ambition beyond channel surfing, playing video games, and staying stoned. Stein's debut joins this trend with the story of Esther Kohler, a recent college graduate with no job prospects and no fallback plan beyond moving into her parents' guest room. After weeks of hanging out with friends who are even more lost than she is, Esther is pushed into accepting a babysitting job. Spending time with a four-year-old is within her skill range, but she's out of her depth with the parents, who are grieving the loss of a baby.
VERDICT Esther's initial lethargy is so complete readers may wonder why they should bother to keep turning the pages. If they do, they will be rewarded with a graceful twist of redemption. The mix of self-absorption, depression, and grief does not always sit well together, but Stein makes the final chapters work.
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