GENERATION DEBT by Anya Kamenetz


Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Be Young
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Apparently taking out all those school loans and paying for everything with credit cards hasn’t been a recipe for generational economic health.

A writer for the Village Voice and the Nation, Kamenetz focuses her first book on the increasing economic difficulties of today’s American youth. Her primary aim here is to figure out exactly how the baby boomers financially screwed generations X and Y and to describe how the victims are trying to dig themselves out of the holes they’re in. She devotes the bulk of her readable though scattershot text to examples of young people trying to get by in an America of diminished employment prospects and little financial security. She identifies many contributing factors: the gargantuan loans necessary for all but the very rich to get a college degree, which often doesn’t pay for itself in post-graduation income; the shrinking federal safety net; rampant consumerism fueled by too-easily accessible credit cards with ruinous interest rates. This is worthwhile material, and many readers will feel embarrassed complaining about their own lives after plowing through tales of grinding borderline poverty, but Kamenetz doesn’t satisfactorily string it all together. In a closing chapter looking at ways to turn things around, she relies too much on generational optimism and questionable comments, including that home-schooling is a “tremendously empowering and brave” way of avoiding educational regimentation and college debt. Kamenetz is at least able to make the strong point that the young can’t look to people in power for help: “It is time for all of us to start living for the future.”

A decent guide to the coming financial reckoning.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2006
ISBN: 1-59448-907-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2005


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