The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Leigh Stein

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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.
Published January 3, 2012 by Melville House. 219 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Fallback Plan

Publishers Weekly

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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 attractiv...

Oct 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan

New York Journal of Books

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“Leigh Stein’s debut successfully captures the purgatory between childhood and becoming an adult. What begins as childish regression ends as a bittersweet, nostalgic remembrance of a time when things were just a bit easier, a time before the stark realization that crossing the line into adulthood...

Jan 03 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan


The quarter life crisis may be trivial in the greater scheme of things, but like so much in life, it sure does suck while you're going through it.

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The Rumpus

Her sudden reality – living at home and bearing the brunt of responsibility for a child not her own – falls far short of Esther’s vision of life at twenty-two: “I’d pictured a small group of brunette women who were all my best friends, and our bearded boyfriends who all hailed from Portland, in a...

Apr 12 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan

ForeWord Reviews

Esther Kohler has no fallback plan: She says, “I had, somehow, managed to graduate with a theater degree from Northwestern, but without a job or a trust fund I had to choose between moving home and suffering the rancid fate of a nomadic couch surfer.” Reluctantly, she chooses her parents’ house, ...

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The Paris Review

I can’t raid my past for raw material because my past is so dull, so I have to make it all up.

Jan 05 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan

Tottenville Review

Esther describes Amy, the child’s mother, as “an artificial plant, something that needs nothing.” Amy, distant and a bit crazed after the recent death of her infant, finds solace in Esther’s company.

Jan 21 2013 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan

Side B Magazine

By the final page Esther isn’t on track for a job or a greater plan, but she’s happy—and in the context of Stein’s book that isn’t a consolation prize.

Mar 19 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fallback Plan

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