Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?

Robin Marantz Henig, Author, Samantha Henig, Author
Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig. Penguin/Hudson Street, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59463-096-5
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After New York Times Magazine writer Henig penned a piece on 20-somethings that went “viral,” she teamed up with her 27-year-old daughter, Samantha (NYT Magazine online news editor), to explore the topic in greater depth. The mother-daughter duo covers schooling, career choices, love and marriage, having babies, moving away from home, and other milestones, concluding that many of these issues are now delayed by at least five years. The authors base their findings on an admittedly nonscientific sampling of 127 respondents who answered their questionnaire as well as on current scientific research, and wrap up each chapter with a final judgment on whether the issue is either the “Same as It Ever Was” (as in friendship and marriage) or “Now is New” (as in schooling and childbearing). Many of their conclusions resonate with the work of psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, who has argued that there is a new developmental stage called “emerging adulthood,” characterized by identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between, and seeing a sense of possibilities. While Boomers and “Millennials” have much in common, clearly this generation of 20-somethings confronts some unprecedented difficulties and changes, including escalating college costs and debt, the option to use reproductive technology for later childbearing, and the belief that access to the Internet is a fundamental human need, right up there with air and water. With humor and insight, the authors deftly volley commentary and observation across the generation gap. (Nov.)
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