Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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***Ready Or Not, Here Life Comes

How Today’s Society Makes It Hard for Kids to Grow into Productive Adults—And What We Can Do About It

by Mel Levine, M.D.

Reviewed March 29, 2005.
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005.  286 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#4, Miscellaneous Nonfiction)

As the parent of a high school student, it’s easy to focus on getting that child into a good college.  In Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, Dr. Levine talks about a bigger goal:  Helping our children begin a productive work life.

Dr. Levine first covers all the reasons that more and more Startup Adults are not ready to face life on their own.  Then he talks about things they can do to help clear up deficits.  Finally, he covers special things to consider for parents, educators, teenagers, and startup adults themselves.

I like the ideas presented in this book, and I liked having these things to think about.  I thought that I like lists and charts, but Dr. Levine has so many lists, which are broken down into other lists, and so many charts, that I begin to lose the ability to grasp it all.  I had the same problem with his book A Mind at a Time, and liked the book The Myth of Laziness better, because it presented the same information by following case studies instead of just lists.  Maybe he will do a book about startup adults presenting case studies, which I think would be very helpful.

One reason it is difficult for startup adults to adjust has to do with how different that life is from high school.  Dr. Levine says:  “Work life during the startup years can feel tightly confining compared to schoolwork in high school or even college.  Formal education is like a gala buffet banquet.  You can have it all!  You can sign up for classes in Spanish, advanced algebra, driver’s education, Greek philosophy, sex education, and keyboarding.  And each weekday after 2:40 p.m. you can pursue badminton, the bassoon, and the trading of baseball cards.  Then come the vast evening and weekend smorgasbords offering Instant Messaging, cell phones, DVDs, mall grazing, and TV sitcoms, among countless other mouthwatering side dishes.  What’s more, you really don’t have to choose among these tempting offerings.  You can have them all—in small, medium, or mammoth portions.  Whenever they feel vaguely bored, teenagers can switch nearly instantaneously to a new channel of excitement.  And they can zap whatever they are getting tired of.  Life gets regulated by a universal remote control.”

He also talks about how being well-rounded is valued in school, but when real life comes around, startup adults need to make choices.  Sometimes kids have always succeeded and been revered in school, and they expect work to be just as easy.  Others make choices that are wrong for them.  Still others don’t have the training and skills they need to succeed in their chosen path.

He says that some growth processes for smoother startups are four I’s:  Inner Direction, Interpretation, Instrumentation, and Interaction.  Inner Direction involves Inside Insight, Foresight, and Self-Launching.  Interpretation involves Comprehension, Pattern Recognition, and Evaluative Thinking.  And so on.  Each of those lists is explained and often broken into further lists.  All the lists began to be overwhelming for me, but it is good information, and good food for thought.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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