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The Fallback Plan

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3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,146 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
Just graduated from college, Esther Kohler’s post-graduate plans include: returning to her parents’ house, taking old prescription tranquilizers, hanging out with Jack, her unrequited high school crush, and re-reading her favorite children’s books.

But Esther’s parents decide she should do something— anything—while mulling her future. So they volunteer her to work as a nann
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Melville House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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karen
Sep 19, 2011 karen rated it it was amazing
**woo-hoo!! this is finally out!! come to my store and buy it!!**

so last friday i tried to go to some brooklyn bookfair bookend event at greenlight books (holla), but that place was packed to the tits and very warmly and moistly unpleasant, and i was wallflowering it over in the fiction section with my free beer and tonguing persistent fig seeds out of my teeth when i finally noticed i was not having a good time, and went outside to hopefully waylay the one person i knew who was going to be ther
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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
In another twenty years I would still be depressed and apathetic. I would still be waiting for that turning point, the one that comes in books and plays, where the hero has to step up and risk it all. Apparently, in life, there is no such thing.

The Fallback Plan is a great and much needed addition to the so called New Adult literature. If I had to describe it in just one word, it would be normal. Everything about this book is wonderfully acceptable and ordinary and that’s exactly what makes it s
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Reynje
”Why do you always miss everything, I thought. Why can’t you ever be happy in the moment, instead of looking backward or forward?”
On the face of it, this seemed like a “Rey Book”, because I like to think that twenty-something-angst is my unofficial area of expertise. I thought that I would my spend my time reading The Fallback Plan nodding along in enthusiastic agreement, flagging passages and essentially revelling in the sheer relevance to my life.

But just shy of the halfway point, I found
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Rayroy
Apr 09, 2012 Rayroy rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is what indie debut novels should inspire to be. In “The Fallback Plan” Esther fresh out college finds herself moving back home to live with parents. She’s kind of a wallflower, imaginative, rather apathetic towards her goals and plans, oh and very likeable. Esther’s voice is so genuine, so raw and real, original and confused that I wonder how much of Leigh Stein’s self is written in to the character of Esther, how much of her experience, her fears, her imaginative nature is Leigh Stei ...more
Isamlq
Nov 12, 2011 Isamlq rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-galley
Odd, her talking panda lives in a world that has a striking resemblance to Narnia. Esther claims to be writing a screenplay. Esther spends hours on end contemplating which disease she’d like contract to allow her to live on disability with her parents. Esther describes the state she's in as that of Weltschmerz (mental depression or apathy caused by a comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state; a mood of sentimental sadness.) Esther uses sentences like “if this were a movie” ...more
♥Rachel♥
3.5 Stars

I thought the author did an excellent job portraying someone who feels directionless and a little without hope.

Esther has just moved home after graduating from college. She finds herself in a funk, in a state of inertia. She has no goals and no idea what to do with her degree, much less her life. She hangs out with two loser friends, Jack and Pickle, who seem to don't seem to do anything other than play video games, drink, and smoke weed. At first I had no idea what Esther would see in
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Cynthia
Jan 13, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweet and Sour

“The Fallback Plan” is about 22 year old Esther who’s just graduated from Northwestern with a degree in Drama. She’s having some ‘issues’ so winds up moving back in with mom and dad. Stein has a wonderfully acerbic wit which masks this young woman’s sweetness. Esther has a wry ability to laugh at herself even when she’s in pain. Her sense of the ridiculous helps her see past herself. The punch lines are never where and what you’d expect and the humor is never mean spirited. She let
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Melissa
Jan 06, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
Stayed up until 3 AM last night reading this book cover to cover. It reminded me of everything I loved about Are You There God It's Me Margaret and Then Again Maybe I Won't when I was growing up (especially the makeout scenes) if Margaret had a tumblr and Tony was into OWS protests and they both went to good colleges and your period was vicodin.
Jessica
Feb 16, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I bought this book shortly after it was released because I was 27 and not too far removed from the experiences of the narrator. As Millennials come of age, there's been an influx in the amount of "disenchanted twentysomething" media out there and I sometimes found myself wanting to gobble it up before I grew (frighteningly) too old to connect to it.

I fiiiiinally got around to reading the book three years later and it’s possible that I’m (frighteningly) too old to connect to it the way I would h
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Tammy Dotts
Jan 03, 2012 Tammy Dotts rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
For some people, the time after college is a second adolescence. Responsibilities of exams and classes are over, but responsibilities of the real world haven’t kicked in yet as recent graduates look for a job in their chosen field or continue to struggle to define what they want to do when they grown up.

The latter is the situation facing Esther in Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan. Having moved back in with her parents, Esther feels very much in between stages of her life. She drifts for a bit bef
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Jasmine
Feb 26, 2012 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
I take xanax. It doesn't do anything. well that's not true, sometimes it makes me manic, sometimes it makes me want to puke, but not once has it ever actually made me feel anything in the area of good. I took it during a panic attack once it made me feel more anxious. I don't take it all the time, I have a different pill for that, that one makes me apathetic, it was nice in low doses, but when I bumped up the dose it just made me feel crap too. I take xanax when the anxiety gets really bad, some ...more
Meryl
Jan 11, 2012 Meryl rated it liked it
Leigh Stein’s first novel, The Fallback Plan, was a quick read that will resonate with people who were jolted by adjusting to life after college. Stein’s protagonist, Esther Koehler, returns home to her parents’ house in an Illinois suburb after graduating from Northwestern with a degree in theater. Esther has little to no interest in finding a job and prefers to revisit her favorite childhood books and hang around with her old friends, two slackers who are also failing to launch.

Esther’s parano
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christa
Feb 03, 2013 christa rated it liked it
The worst thing about moving home when I was 24 years old was the well-enforced curfew of 2 a.m. It was a respect thing. My parents couldn’t sleep if they knew I was on the roads, whether I was 16 or the arrested adolescent who had returned home with a pet cat and returned to the handful of part time jobs held as a high school student. So it wasn’t like I’d be grounded, per se, if I snuck in at 4 a.m. But my parents have always been able to craft a powerful look of disappointment that stung wors ...more
Amy
Sep 15, 2012 Amy rated it did not like it
i really didn't like this book. the first chapter made me want to give up on this book - it got better, but only barely. the characterization was really bare, and i had no sympathy for esther, who dreams of contracting a chronic illness and living off disability checks so that she doesn't have to get a job after she graduates from college. give me a break, you have a theater degree, do we really need a book discussing how it sucks that you had to move back in with your parents? and the book ment ...more
Jane
Jan 03, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
I have a feeling that this is one of those books that you either connect with and love, or you just don't. Happily, I belong to the first group of people.

The Fallback Plan is one of those rare books that manages to successfully pull off an astounding number of feats. It's:

1. quirky, but not twee (I just found out about this word and I love it a lot so there)
2. refreshing, but doesn't try too hard
3. pretty much about first world problems, but they still matter and aren't annoying

However, this
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Simon Lipson
Mar 26, 2012 Simon Lipson rated it did not like it
Ok, the fact that I didn't like this book is probably my fault rather than the author's. And I'll admit that I didn't didn't get anywhere near the end. Briefly, it deals with a young graduate's post-university life/career lacuna and her return to her home town and the bosom of her family. I was drawn to it because of my predilection for wry, contemporary American-Jewish fiction, but this one passed me by. I found the prose bitty and inchoate, lacking in continuity or flow. It lacked wit and shar ...more
Janet Joy
Sep 28, 2011 Janet Joy rated it really liked it
This debut novel about a fresh college graduate returning to her parent's home seems quite timely what with seeing articles every day about this subject. Boomerang generation or bust?
Leigh Stein was a New Yorker staffer and writes in a smart witty fashion which transitions smoothly to a sad story. She has to create her own definition of who she is as an adult while she is surrounded by old friends, old prescription transquilizers while living in her kid bedroom with her parents down the hall. I
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Jill
Jul 12, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Sad, funny, true to an everygirl's post-college experience. I loved it!
Stephanie Normandin
Jul 25, 2012 Stephanie Normandin rated it did not like it
Dull, obvious and over-simplified, with a too-easy resolution. Barf.
Lisa
Jan 25, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I bought The Fallback Plan because I saw that Leigh Stein would be visiting a local bookstore soon and I hadn't been to an author reading in several years. In spite of not having heard of Stein before, I thought that I might be able to relate to her novel about a young woman who graduates from Northwestern with a theatre degree and no job (seeing as I'm about to pull a similar trick with law school).

At first I wasn't sure what I thought, but the further I got into the book, the more I really, r
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Megan
Nov 05, 2013 Megan rated it liked it
Millennial fiction - fiction by millennials, for millennials, about millennials. That title describes Leigh Stein's THE FALLBACK PLAN perfectly, and it's a much more apt title than what many people would use - New Adult. It's about a recently graduated theatre student in the Chicago suburbs who moves home due to circumstances beyond her control, namely a nervous breakdown while in college that has left her on shaky legs. On paper, I have so much in common with this girl, which is what led me to ...more
Whitney
Feb 08, 2012 Whitney rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
The Fallback Plan is the story of Esther Kohler, a depressed twentysomething wandering aimlessly through her post-grad life. Many of us have been in Esther's shoes: we close the door on a significant part of our lives and face an endless hallway of doors, or perhaps, an endless hallway of blank space that appears to lead nowhere. Esther moves back in with her parents, the titular "fallback plan," and seems to be waiting for a catalyst to get her life moving again.

It's when Esther takes a job ba
...more
Teresa
Sep 13, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s
***Obtained from NetGalley.com ***

Attacking mid-twenty-something angst with sarcasm and brutal honesty, The Fallback Plan is a manic-depressive’s dream read. With its ebb and flow of anxiety one page and humorous introspective the next, the novel keeps you on your toes and unknowingly developing comparisons to your own life.

Esther is a recent college grad who like most others with a diploma has no job and no money. Forced with no other option, she moves back into her parent’s house and anesthe
...more
Ramie
Dec 26, 2011 Ramie rated it it was amazing
This book reminds me of many a "Indie movie". From me, that's a compliment, I love this sort of thing. Still, it's not for everyone. It's the kind of story that is really just one chapter in a character's life. There's no good place for such a story to begin or end because it's like we're just peeking into someone's life briefly, even if they be a fictional someone.

In this case that someone is Esther, a recent college grad who quickly learned that the theater program doesn't lend itself to many
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Aja
Mar 18, 2012 Aja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Very quick, easy read. The author has nailed the voice of the jobless, quirky post-college grad and while a lot of parts were quite funny and had the ring of truth to them, it was hard to not become increasingly annoyed with Esther (the narrator)'s misguided self-righteousness. Spoilers, but why did the novel have to end with such a horrific kiss-off to Amy, who in her mourning just sought for friendship and understanding (seriously she must have invited people over for dinner 5 times during the ...more
Megan
Aug 13, 2012 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, biblioteca
I loved this little gem of a book. It’s enough so that you find yourself relating and also realizing that you need to grow up and get off your butt and do something with your life – that is, if you haven’t already. It doesn’t drag either, which is great because I’ve read many books in the past that tried their hand at similar material and went on and on. Basically, they failed. Stein doesn’t. Read this and your life will thank you immensely.

for a more thorough review

Melody
Sep 19, 2013 Melody rated it liked it
I heard about Stein through a link someone posted to Facebook about modern poets to watch. My library didn't have any of her poetry, but did have this slight, engaging novel. While I adored the homage to many favorite children's books, I failed to identify with the 20-something, living at home angst. Stein is clearly in love with words and images, and it seems to me that her poetry somehow peeks through her prose. The plot is sort of plotless and meandering, like the 20-something protagonist. I ...more
Brian
Jan 15, 2013 Brian rated it it was ok
This book sounded fun from the back, but upon reading it, it didn't really make a lot of sense, and wasn't particularly interesting. The premise is that a woman is out of college and has to move home with her parents. She takes a job babysitting for a couple with problems. They have their own issues. The book was nonsensical at times and often had random non sequitors. It was also incredibly short, but it was mildly entertaining.
Thrishni Subramoney
Mar 05, 2015 Thrishni Subramoney rated it really liked it
In retrospect, I wonder if we all stressed about our future in our twenties. Maybe we never stopped. Fallback Plan is an often funny account of what happens when you find out (as you inevitably do) that good grades and graduating are not the be-all formula for success. Not in our time.
Charlie
Jan 15, 2013 Charlie rated it it was ok
I wasn't aware that Lena Dunham's book had come out already.
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Leigh Stein is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan, a collection of poetry called Dispatch from the Future, and a memoir, Land of Enchantment, forthcoming from Plume in August 2016. She is co-founder and Executive Director fo the nonprofit literary organization Out of the Binders, and lives outside New York City.
More about Leigh Stein...

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“I’ve had to appropriate my parents’ memories of my childhood, their stories, true or not, because sometimes when I see old photos of myself I don’t quite believe that’s who I was. What appear to be the happiest years of my life in photo albums are the years most missing in my memory. That girl could be anyone. She could be the girl that came with the picture frame. She could be anyone’s daughter running along the beach.” 0 likes
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