Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: "The Fallback Plan" by Leigh Stein

Esther Kohler just graduated from Northwestern. Although she dreams of being an actress, she's not really interested in actually pursuing that career right now. In fact, she doesn't really feel like doing much of anything. When she moves back home to live with her parents, she envisions days of laying on the couch in her pajamas, watching lots of television, re-reading her favorite children's books, and existing under a haze of prescription drugs.

Her parents, however, have other plans for Esther, and find her a job babysitting for the young daughter of neighbors Amy and Nate Brown. But the Browns' infant daughter died six months earlier, and they haven't quite recovered from that blow. Esther finds herself becoming the responsible one, caring for May as well as Amy, and serving as Nate's confidante, all while her own personal life is in a bit of a shambles. She finally realizes that she needs to shake herself out of her complacency, especially where her interactions with the Browns are concerned, but she's still not sure where that leaves her.

This book surprised me. It wasn't what I expected, and just when I thought I had it all figured out, it threw me for a bit of a loop, in a good way. Some of the reviews of the book said it was uproariously funny. I thought it was definitely wry and humorous, but not hysterical, but that didn't detract from its charm. Esther is a character that really grew on me; she was much deeper than she seemed at the novel's start, and much more aware of what was going on around her. Leigh Stein did a really good job capturing the angst and rudderlessness that many recent college graduates feel, when you're not quite ready to be an adult, yet no one is still willing to treat you as a child, at least the way you want. I really enjoyed this.

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