‘The Transition’ by Luke Kennard – A Remedy for Young Hapless Middle Class Under-Achievers


‘The Transition’ by Luke Kennard  (2017) – 328 pages

In, ‘The Transition’, Karl is a young man in the near future who has gotten himself and his wife Genevieve into a whole mess of financial trouble.  It is not that Karl isn’t smart; Karl is very smart.  He has gotten his Master’s Degree in English focusing on the Metaphysical Poets. Who would ever guess that somebody with that superior academic background would have financial troubles?

So now that he is out of college with a loving wife and huge college debts to repay, how does Karl keep the two of them above water?  It helps that Genevieve has a steady job as an elementary school teacher, but that is still not enough money.

However there is the Internet.  Karl makes money on the Internet writing glowing reviews of products he never used and restaurants he has never visited.  He writes brilliant academic papers under the guise of “study aids” that undergraduates can buy and use for their own course work.  Most of the Internet money he earns is faintly dishonest and the employers are anonymous, but he is underpaid for the work anyway.  He still has to jiggle payments between credit cards in order to stay afloat.

Ultimately one of his dishonest Internet jobs gets him into legal trouble.  He is given a choice.  He can either go to prison or enroll, along with innocent wife Genevieve, in something called The Transition. The Transition is a six-month rehabilitation program with a goal of rescuing “a generation suffering from an unholy trinity of cynicism, ignorance and apathy.”

Karl and Genevieve are assigned another couple, Stuart and Janna, as mentors to teach them fiscal responsibility.  Karl and Genevieve must move to an apartment adjoining their mentors. While Karl rebels against the imposed guidance of The Transition, Genevieve flourishes within this new system.

Luke Kennard has created a great setup for this novel which I suspect is a dilemma a lot of young people face with massive college debts and morally dubious low-paying opportunities involving the Internet.  The idea of this relief organization with mentors to rehabilitate people financially is also excellent.  My main concern with ‘The Transition’ is that the humor after the original setup is a little too tame and subtle for me.  It could have been broader and sharper.  I could picture these financial mentors Stuart and Janna as being much more obnoxious.  Somewhere I read an admiring review comparing ‘The Transition’ to ‘Lucky Jim’.  However Kingsley Amis was much, much meaner and nastier with his characters than Luke Kennard could ever be.  I felt Kennard’s attempts to be fair to all of his characters watered down the humor to some extent.


Grade:   B 


4 responses to this post.

  1. What a fascinating concept, and as you say, so right for our times!



  2. Student debts is the next big financial scandal in the US, don’t you think?

    How American to imagine a Transition Program instead of imagining a way to allow people to study for a decent price. 🙂

    That said, it’s a great idea for a book.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Emma,
      Yes, Student Debts are a big problem now. I was lucky to have graduated from college in a more generous era.
      Luke Kennard is British, so I guess student debts are a problem over there too.



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