Not Quite Adults

Why 20-Somethings are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It’s Good for Everyone

Eight years of research help paint a portrait of a generation that’s making a slower, more calculated transition into adulthood — with results that benefit all. A review of this book is available.

239 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted December 13, 2022


I finished it! It was informative, but not completely relevant for the time we are currently living. I found some of the examples outdated.


Review posted November 22, 2022


This book fully justifies my lifestyle and way of thinking about planning for my future career and life. It's nice to read how other recent college graduates are navigating this new world and coming to terms of things that I thought were expected for me to complete by a certain age that I don't have to be on anyone else's life schedule besides the one that I make for myself.


Review posted May 18, 2022


I have read this three times and have highlighted it in a lot of places. I found this very helpful as a parent and education professional. I highly recommend it


Review posted March 12, 2022


I am a mom to three young 20-somethings and they all still live with my husband and I. I saw this book and thought it would teach me why I felt this was an acceptable living situation. There were so many great things in this book that are applicable to me, and now no one has to be embarrassed or try to dodge questions about why they still live at home. It helps our kids become established in their careers without the pressure of bills hanging over their heads. They can choose to focus on their continuing education while working part-time because their expenses are so much less. They are also able to contribute to the household income by chipping in for rent or utilities or even groceries. Then, when they are ready, emotionally prepared, and financially stable, they can be launched appropriately. It was a very helpful book!


Review posted February 24, 2022


great book with a lot of useful information


Review posted February 8, 2022


This was a very good book. Thank you


Review posted February 4, 2022


This book was useful for helping understand why young adults are taking different approaches to adulthood and that not everything should be so "cookie cutter" when it comes to development.


Review posted December 1, 2021


Fascinating look into barriers for youth and families, and the importance of reframing/updating the expectations transitioning to adulthood. There is hope for our youth. They just need to be given the space and support to finish growing up.


Review posted May 18, 2021




Review posted May 2, 2021


Wondering why your child is loathe to leave the nest? Wondering why you shouldn't just push them out and hope they can fly on their own? This book makes a good case for parenting our children differently than we were parented. Not because they are more needy, but because the times have changed. Needs an update. The book is 10 years old.


Review posted April 30, 2021


Written in 2010, this title has proven remarkably prescient. The move to later marriage and family has actually grown, excelerated now by the Covid pandemic. The results have been encouraging and this title puts the focus on how later maturation has helped both personal growth and the economy. I highly recommend this interesting and well-written book.


Review posted April 2, 2021


Interesting read, especially as a young adult myself. Definitely geared towards an educational/parental perspective, yet I did find myself nodding in approval as Setterson and Ray discussed how it's okay and even beneficial for young people to take their time through school, moving out of the house, graduating, getting married etc.


Review posted October 17, 2020


Great book love it

Raina Martinez

Review posted July 1, 2020


This book takes an interesting look into the challenges and life paths of 20-somethings. The authors sort the 20-something group into two categories "swimmers" and "treaders". The swimmers are those that take life, a step at a time, they graduate high school, attend college, graduate, maybe move home, while they find work, get married (or not), they are going somewhere, and take their time getting there. The treaders are those who are in a rush to get through to the next level of adulthood, either because of circumstances, lack of leadership, resources, or choices, while trying to keep their head above water as life happens to them. This book was written in 2010, just after the economic downturn in 2008, at that time the outlook for young adults in the job market was bleak, strangely similar to the outlook for those coming of age in 2020.


Review posted June 24, 2020


This book help reinforce my choices on not quickly getting all the milestones I "should" have by 30. It help me find my more confidence in myself and my choices.


Review posted June 16, 2020


Good book for sure. The title was catchy as I feel I am in that generation that is not quite adult but trying to figure it out. As part of the gerneration taking everything slow compared to my parents. Good read


Review posted June 5, 2020


this book was hard to read it was very text book college reading like, it has good information to pull from.


Review posted June 5, 2020


Captivating and very poignant. Offer great discussion and reflection.


Review posted December 8, 2019


Worth every page of knowledge


Review posted December 7, 2019


I confess that my need to read this book stems from my guilt about over managing my young adult children. Toddlerhood and teenagerhood were nothing like the worry of young adulthood. This book helped allege my fears somewhat, reassured me regarding the state of the world as we leave it to millennials, but also makes me wonder if I’m falsely comforted.


Review posted December 6, 2019


I found this book a bit hard to read. It came off as a bit privileged and wasn't very relevant for my family or the families I work with.


Review posted December 4, 2019


This book was written from a very privileged point of view. The clear indication of class-ism and privilege were blatant. It was offensive to me and I would suspect to other people of color or low income.


Review posted October 10, 2019


This was a great book. I have recommended it over 100 ppl.


Review posted September 21, 2019


I love love love this book. It’s so relatable ❤️ I fully understand I’m in between life right now

Sarah Levitt

Review posted September 11, 2019


I found this book to be a bit like an editorial. It says that is is research based on 500 youth, written in 2009. It seems catered to the vast majority of white privileged youth, and does not take into account the vast majority of impoverished and/or minority students who live at home due to necessity, rather than choice. I have however not yet finished the book, so perhaps things turn around in later chapters..


Review posted August 22, 2019


I initially got this book to increase my ability to mentor our most recently emerging group of young adults, yet I quickly realized that I was reading more about my own generation, as a millennial approaching 40. Some of the information is no longer relevant (from being published in 2010), but even then, the book offers historical context for the next evolution of millennial trends and still provides context for the last 15 years. I'd like to see this research updated for the current political environment and the increased levels of youth anxiety and growing economical class distinctions. I enjoyed the insights I gained.


Review posted October 15, 2018


This book gave me a lot of clarification in the sense that I am a 25 year old female that doesn't have a lot of direction in her life and I feel like I am failing at compared to my peer group. It gave a lot of statistics on why our generation is following a different path than what used to be normal. Giving me the reassurance that it is okay that I am taking longer to get settled into my career. Marriage is really important for me too and within my culture there is a lot of pressure to get married young. I still hope to be married one day, but this book gave me a sense of ease that I still have time and I am not missing out. This book was great and I would recommend it to any millennial that may feel like they find pressure from their parents to move at a faster pace than they are ready for.


Review posted January 1, 2018


As a millennial, I found this to be a great read! The research findings outlined were encouraging. I would recommend it to others.


Review posted October 4, 2017


As someone who was 25 when this was published, I can attest to a lot of the information ringing true. However, I think even in 2010 some of their predictions had already come to pass. A new set of data should be looked at based on the years since publication. The one that stands out the most to me is about all of us with our Bachelors degrees would soon flood a tightening market. That was happening already in 2010. I graduated from the U of O in 2008, right when the recession was hitting the hardest. I was employed for a whopping 5 months before being laid off because the small business I worked for could no longer afford 3 employees. I remained unemployed for 9 months because I was competing against all the other unemployed 20 somethings and our unemployed parents for the few jobs available. Even in 2008, two years before this book came out, the phrase on just about everyone's lips was "a Bachelors degree is the equivalent of a high school degree these days." Yes, as the books says, higher education (community college, trade school, or a BA/BS) is important for anyone. But our system fails so many. Which is something they cover quite well in this. We need to show our young people that there is no shame in trade school. We as a society need people with those skills! But besides encouraging them, we need better information given in high school so that kids understand their options, especially if they're coming from families that have little to no experience dealing with any form of school beyond high school. I was lucky. I come from a lower middle class/working class (I'm from Hawaii, and the money my parents made would be lower middle class on the mainland but back home we were scraping by), and though neither of my parents had degrees while I was growing up, my mom always reinforced the notion that higher education was our ticket to a better life. She was exactly the kind of parent the book highlights as one that was trying to set my brother and I on course to be "swimmers" and not "treaders" even though we had our start in a treading family. Some other things I found to be just...hilarious, I guess is the only way to put it. The entire chapter about marriage, for instance. They touch on a few aspects that, at least among my group of friends and acquaintances, are true, but seem to then ignore those ideas. "How late is too late?" they ask about marriage. Why does a piece of paper matter so much, we ask in return. To be fair, our country does not have much in the way of support for live in partners and their children. You aren't recognized as a family unless you have that piece of paper. But maybe we need to change that. There are places in this world that legally recognize those sorts of relationships. Marriage isn't the be all end all for anyone. A lot of us also grew up watching our parents' marriages unravel, as the book does talk about. A lot of us have family that were unconventional for their generation and didn't marry their partner for a long time. I have one aunt and uncle who didn't marry for 20 years. My aunt has said she knows if she had married my uncle before the time they did, she would have divorced him. Even now she still says marrying is overrated and don't bother. So why is it so shocking so many of us feel the same as my baby boomer aunt? These aren't new notions. It's just more of us are finally saying it and doing it. I could go on and on. My copy of the book is loaded with neon sticky tabs. But let me just end with this: The book does hit a lot of true notes for me, the subject of the book. Some things don't, but then this was a broad study done in very specific locations. As I said, I'm from Hawaii, a very different place from the mainland economically, culturally, and socially. But overall, if you aren't a 20 something/early 30s "millenial" (can you tell I hate that term for my apparently gigantic generation?), this book will give you some good insight into why my peers do the things we do. But most importantly, the final chapter has some very good ideas for changes for the future. I think that this chapter is the most important of all in the book. We need, as an entire society, to make some changes for the greater good. Can we achieve that? I'm not very hopeful, but we can certainly try. And if nothing else, this book drives home the fact that my generation is trying to be more invested in making a difference for the future, even if our methods seem strange or pointless to older generations. And as I said before, I think a new set of data needs to be acquired about my generation. A lot has changed in the seven years since this book and the studies it is based on were published. I'm curious to see what parts of their predictions came true, and what maybe did not.

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Review posted October 3, 2017


A fascinating read about the shifting attitudes and perceptions of the 20-something generation. It seems we have greatly misunderstood the youth who will become our future.


Review posted August 8, 2017


Gives perspective


Review posted December 6, 2016


As a 20-something myself, this book was incredibly helpful as I navigate life transitions -- and work with my students to navigate their own life changes in college and beyond. This book was very insightful and useful for my personal and professional development!


Review posted October 14, 2016


This book is helpful for parents, educators, mentors, and anyone who wants to help young people succeed. Eye-opening and validating.


Review posted May 23, 2016


I enjoyed the books references to a variety of populations. The sources they include appear credible and applicable to my professional life. It was not as extensive of a read as I thought it would be, which was great given my work and school load. I do wish there was more exploration of how race, culture and sexual orientation dimensions are key variables within the context of adulthood and advancement in a predominately anglo society.


Review posted May 22, 2016


Not Quite Adults is a great read! This book 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 are changing 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. I work with high school students and this is a great eye opener as to what they will be up against.


Review posted March 9, 2016


This was an okay book. Although I was hoping to learn more about maybe why the generation seemed to have such anger issues. I did know more than I thought I did about my own daughter. It seemed this book wasn't able to tell me much of what I didn't know. If you are having trouble with understanding your 20 something young adult in your life than this book may help.


Review posted February 22, 2016


Good insights for looks at this age-group. Both for personal reflexion, and for work I am doing with that age group.


Review posted January 27, 2016


I appreciate how the author explains how the generation sees the future..their expectations..outlook and gives a fresh look on how to best approach with new ideas and perspectives in problem solving between generations.

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Review posted September 21, 2015


This was a helpful resource and healing, in fact, as my 20s I spent defending my every decision to my parents who were aghast that I didn't buy a house and get married upon graduation from college. The sociological frame was helpful to understand (I have also read a brain-based book about a similar topic). Bonus that the book is by an OSU professor! Thank you - this will help me as I work with young adults who volunteer time in my school.

Mr. Bizjak

Review posted September 18, 2015


This book was great! Working with students and considering everything I read in this book has made me a stronger teacher and teacher-leader.


Review posted September 10, 2015


This book gave me insight as to how living at home longer can help you to gain more financial security and better career outlook in the future. As a young person myself, I often felt like I was failing by moving home after college. Now that I know how prevalent it is and that it can be beneficial, I no longer feel the same shame I once felt. I am excited to help my high school students understand that this is a viable option and that it is okay to stretch out your teenage years and rely on p[parental supports.


Review posted June 30, 2015


This is a very interesting and helpful read as I, myself, have recently journeyed through my 20s and am now a teaching assistant at a local University working with many students in their 20s. This book is thoughtful and level headed.


Review posted April 6, 2015


As a 22 year old, I found this book very interesting. The author discusses how a slower path to "adulthood" is good for our generation, and also touches on the stigmas that our generation faces. It helped me to better understand what I should be doing in life.


Review posted March 29, 2015


I really enjoyed this book. It provided a lot of insight on young adults and the challenges that are facing them that are different than what I (as a Baby Boomer) faced. With a son in his early twenties still living at home, I found this book to be both helpful and encouraging.