Synopses & Reviews
A charming, smart and hilarious debut novel about the tricky period between college graduation and moving out of your parents’ house
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 nanny for their neighbors, the Browns.
It’s a tricky assignment: six months earlier, the Browns’ youngest child had died. Still, as Esther finds herself falling in love with their surviving daughter May, she’s impressed by how well they seem to be coping. And as Esther and her old high school flame resume a confusing relationship, she finds it easier to escape to the Browns' house.
Soon, though, she finds herself assuming the role of mother to May, confidante to May’s mother Amy, and partner in crime to Amy’s husband Nate.... And when these conflicting alliances inevitably collide, Esther is forced to create her own definition of who she really is.
Both witty and heartbreaking, The Fallback Plan is a beautifully written and moving story of what we must leave behind, and what we manage to hold on to, as we navigate the treacherous terrain between youth and adulthood.
"Stein, 26, captures the voice of the young 20-something prodigal daughter with the clarion call of authenticity in her debut novel. Esther Kohler is a burned-out recent college grad who has returned to the claustrophobic embrace of her suburban family home following a depressive episode in her final semester at Northwestern University. An aspiring actress and screenwriter (Esther's inchoate screenplay features characters and tropes borrowed from her favorite childhood books), she spends her days taking prescription pills and tagging along on the misadventures of her childhood friend, Pickle, and his 'devastatingly attractive' but unstable buddy, Jack. Esther's poor decision-making skills have an amusing universality, and Stein's dry humor lends a nicely angst-free tone to her misadventures. In acquiescence to her parents, she accepts a babysitting job for a family who recently lost a child. Esther finds her own life becoming inextricably linked with a family with 'real problems,' forcing her to take that last step away from adolescence and to embrace the future. Stein's light, accessible, self-deprecating prose makes this coming-of-age story a pleasure." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A hilarious debut novel about the tricky period between graduating from college and moving out of your parents’ house
What to do when you’ve just graduated from college and your plans conflict with those of your parents? That is, when your plans to hang out on the couch, re-read your favorite children’s books, and take old prescription tranquilizers, conflict with your parents plans that you, well, get a job?
Without a fallback plan, Eshter Kohler decides she has no choice but to take the job her mother has lined up for her: babysitting for their neighbors, the Browns.
It’s a tricky job, though. Six months earlier, the Browns’ youngest child died. Still, as Esther finds herself falling in love with their surviving daughter May, and distracted by a confusing romance with one of her friends, she doesn’t notice quite how tricky the job is … until she finds herself assuming the role of confidante to May’s mother Amy, and partner in crime to Amy’s husband Nate. Trapped in conflicting roles doomed to collide, Esther is forced to come up with a better idea of who she really is.
Both hilarious and heartbreaking, The Fallback Plan is a beautifully written and moving story of what we must leave behind, and what we manage to hold on to, as we navigate the treacherous terrain between youth and adulthood.
About the Author
This is Leigh Stein’s first novel, although at 26 she is already an accomplished writer. A former New Yorker staffer and frequent contributor to its “Book Bench” blog, her poetry has been published in numerous journals, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and earned her Poets & Writers Magazine’s Amy Award. She lives in Brooklyn, where she works in children’s publishing and teaches musical theater to elementary school students.