Review of Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?, By: Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig
Are today’s twentysomethings experiencing their early adulthood in a new and unprecedented fashion? Or are they merely following in the unsteady footsteps of prior generations’ youth?
Mother daughter writing team Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig tackle these questions on all the major fronts of twentysomething’s lives through research, interviews, and their personal experiences in Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?
A consistent theme of the book is that the twenties are a time to make decisions that have lifelong repercussions. “The fact of having to choose mates and careers and friends in the twenties, the fact that doing so is really hard, the fact that closing doors goes against our nature- all these truths have applied to young people for generations,” Robyn writes.
And despite the hype that today’s youth are particularly lazy, lost, and entitled, the Henigs concluded that these allegations are nothing new. “…many of the Baby Boomers currently freaking out about their twentysomething children living in the basement, or going back to school instead of getting a paying job, or sleeping around instead of marrying off, had similar, and similarly traumatic, twenties of their own. … Almost every complaint you’re hearing about Millennials was made, sometimes even verbatim, about Baby Boomers…”
One of the biggest changes for the current twentysomething generation is that they are following a prolonged timetable toward adulthood. Spending more time pursuing higher education postpones career and financial goals. Medical advances allow twentysomethings to put off beginning a family. Emerging adults eventually reach the milestones of adulthood, but it may take them a few years longer than previous generations.
Overall, I found this book to be an enjoyable and informative read. Of particular note were the use of the two author’s perspectives, that of Robyn, a fiftysomething, and Sam, a twentysomething. Other books that I have read on twentysomethings seem to tackle this decade in isolation, so I appreciated the longer arc of time presented in this book. The style of writing is more analytical than advisory, so be sure to read this book if you’d like to improve your general understanding of the dynamics at play in the lives of twentysomethings.