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Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It's Good for Everyone Paperback – December 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Settersten, a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, and Ray, communications director of the Network on Transitions to Adulthood, funnel the findings of the eight-year MacArthur Research Network's study of 20-somethings into a portrait of a generation. Drawing on more than 500 interviews and foraying into their subjects' debts, regrets, and ambitions, the authors reveal that the cohort is making a slower transition to adulthood--they are slower to leave the nest, slower to find a full-time job, slower to marry and have children--but that their choices are hardly regressions; they are often necessary adaptations to a world vastly different from their parents'. "Slaying misperceptions," the authors show that young people are some of the most debtphobic individuals in the country, that they are delaying--not abandoning--marriage, that friends play larger and more influential roles in their lives and assist with "critical life decisions," and that they continue to regard having children as meaningful, "even salvation." Aside from enjoying a panoramic perspective on one generation, readers will be able to glean tips on everything from dating to parenting from this admirably lucid and fair-minded study that, in describing what is happening, reveals what is working. (Dec.) (c)
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“There are three huge strengths that set this book apart from anything else available on the transition to adulthood. First, it is written in a lively and jargon-free style by two rare social scientists who are familiar with the English language. Second, its scope is stunning, including challenges to becoming an adult created by dramatic changes in education, relations between young adults and parents, marriage and its precursors, civic life, and the world of work. Third, the tone is relentlessly upbeat about the advantages these changes are opening up for young people. This book proves that it is possible to write an interesting book about a big social problem that reflects research knowledge while nonetheless being accessible to the American public.” –Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families

“Based on interviews with 500 young adults and extensive research, this outstanding book offers a fresh and compelling view of why it is taking this generation longer to make career and family decisions. The message here is about the value of “slowing down,” and it makes sense not just for young adults, but also for their parents and educators, who are “fast tracking children” into a lengthy period of being nearly, but not quite, adults.  Learn about today’s young adults, why they are making the life choices they are, and why we should feel good about it.” –Barbara Schneider, author of the Ambitious Generation, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

"Not Quite Adults is perhaps the most important contribution to date about the strange new life of America's twentysomethings.  Settersten and Ray are able to combine a deep grasp of the research with common sense advice for "not quite adults" and their parents. The slower path to adulthood is here to stay; thanks to the authors, we are now much wiser about what that means for all of us.” –Kay Hymowitz, author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys and contributing editor City Journal
 
"In a world that is confused by 20-somethings, Not Quite Adults offers insight that will help us understand this generation. Hopeful and challenging, this book is a must read for parents and policy makers alike." –Jane Isay, author of Walking on Eggshells.

"One of the most important functions of social science research is to raise the quality of public debate by challenging myth, conjecture, and sensationalism with empirical realities. This book does just that by presenting an integrated social map of young adulthood in 21st Century America that is grounded in a diverse body of research."   –James Garbarino, PhD,  Loyola University Chicago, author of Children and the Dark Side of Human Experience
 
"Amid all the outcry over young people stuck in adultolescence and failing to launch comes this sensible portrait of a generation of almost-adults.  Based on empirical research, and not hand-wringing punditry, Settersten and Ray reveal a new stage of development that slows the clock, but does not stop it, making slower, but steady progress to more durable relationships and stable social networks." –Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology, SUNY Stony Brook, author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
 
 “The rulebook has changed; the good ol’ days of a universally accepted school-work-family-retirement fast track are gone. Despite mainstream media’s attempt to portray 20-somethings as a group of lazy, no-good slackers, Not Quite Adults uncovers the real story – how a slower, more calculated transition into adulthood often makes more sense and leads to a better future for us all.” –Sean Aiken, author of The One-Week Job Project
 
“Aside from enjoying a panoramic perspective on one generation, readers will be able to glean tips on everything from dating to parenting from this admirably lucid and fair-minded study that, in describing what is happening, reveals what is working.” –Publishers Weekly 
 
A provocative look at how a changing reality is transforming the transition to adulthood for a generation of Americans, and the implications of this transformation in today’s competitive world." –Kirkus

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1st edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I recently read this book by family scholar Richard Settersten, coauthored with Barbara Rey, titled Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Something are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why it's Good for Everyone. "I couldn't put it down" is such a hackneyed term that even high school essayists won't use it. But in my case, it's true. I haven't plowed through a book this fast since the Da Vinci Code.

Not Quite Adults explains the phenomenon of the lengthening duration from high school graduation and attaining what has been the experience of transitioning to adulthood of the past few decades. Young adults are meeting the sociological markers of leaving home, finishing school, finding work, getting married and having kids in a more lengthy and often reordered way.

The book had so much meaning for me, for a three reasons. First, the content was co-authored by a first rate scholar. (I work in the field.) Settersten is Professor and the Hallie Ford Endowed Chair in the Human Development and Family Sciences Department at Oregon State University. Moreover, I could identify with every word because I am the mom of a transitioning adult. It affirmed what I am noticing intuitively--that the time elapsing from adolescence to adulthood, as it was defined back in my day, has stretched and that today's young adults need a head start, including supportive parents, to make the leap.

Finally, it confirmed a trend that I began to see increasingly in my previous 15 year career as an academic adviser at a major university. I worked a lot with older students, returning to college in their late 20s or 30s.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ajs34 on August 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a younger adult myself, I was interested in reading a scholarly piece on the common failure to launch phenomenon I've seen among my friends and contemporaries. I agree with the authors, at least on my limited, anecdotal experiences, that this is a trend, but I was not convinced that it is a good one. Or, at least that it has aspects to it that are beneficial to society at large. They do a good job of marshaling arguments in support of their position, but my feet on the ground perspective of the slackers who mooch off mom and dad while at the same time exhibiting no discernible plan or desire to live on their own has tainted my view sufficiently that I was a hard sell to begin with. For that reason, in the interest of fairness, you may want to take my review of with a grain of salt.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert Hamilton on February 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading a review in the Economist, and was intrigued by the premise. I fit into this age group and situation, and was interested to see what their research revealed. This reads more as a guide for 20-somethings than a means for gaining any real meaning into the plight of this section of Americans. In fact, I'll summarize the theme of this book for you in one sentence: Go to college, *graduate*, or your life is screwed. Despite admitting at various times throughout this work that college may not be for everyone, the authors repeatedly hammer home that your life will be a catastrophe if you don't pursue and succeed at getting an education, regardless of your financial and/or home situations. This is contradictory to such statements within the text as, "Not going to college should not mean failure. No student should hate themselves because they repeatedly try but fail."

I suppose if you're not a member of this age group and want some cursory knowledge into 20-somethings, this is worth a read. If you're in this age group, this book will either make you feel like an accomplished god (with a college degree) or a total waste of humanity (who tried and failed).
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Diane Papalia, PhD on March 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not Quite Adults is a groundbreaker! Wide in scope and lively in style, it challenges the stereotype that today's 20-somethings are a generation of entitled slackers who refuse to grow up. Rather, the authors show how the times are a-changin'--- and how these changes have radically impacted the transition to adulthood today, providing insights into why the slower path to growing up is beneficial to all. As a developmental psychologist---and the mother of a 24 year old---I love this book. It should be required reading for anyone interested in what is happening to 20-somethings in America today.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ike on December 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
While much of what ngonzalez said in her review is true, ultimately I'd be more with Michael Kim.

The authors point out that parental support is needed much more today than it was 20-40 years ago. This is true. This is because there has been a steady erosion of the safety net and social spending. No longer do we spend on the next generation through taxes--- instead we spend on OUR specific kids. The gap is growing between the rich and poor; and the middle class is shrinking away.

Instead of calling for a more egalitarian society, as the Occupy movement and the book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better do, the authors give tips on how to adjust to a Bad Decision on the part of society. This is all the more egregious given how heavily this study was funded by the MacArthur Foundation, an organization that helped fund the Brundtland Commission report, which gave us the phrase sustainable development-- meeting for the needs of today's generations without eroding the basis of the next generation.

The rich have always provided for their kids-- that is why there are private schools, private universities, trust funds, rich neighborhoods with good schools, etc. And in an era when rich and poor are dividing, bad decisions do carry bigger individual consequences.

But why is the author endorsing the move to a divided society? Why don't they speak out against this move? Does she have no awareness that an indebted citizenry is one with less freedom to dissent against these bad decisions, and one with less time to do so?

Another huge flaw of the book is the failure to mention the ecological realities of today's youth are under.
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