Have you ever heard of Failure to Launch Syndrome? Or maybe you’ve heard its other name, Peter Pan Syndrome? You haven’t? Well, I think you’ll get the gist of it pretty quickly after a few insights. The name pretty much says it all!
First and foremost, this is not a clinically diagnosable health issue like diabetes or depression. It is, however, a pattern of behavior with markable “symptoms” that can be addressed. From a book world standpoint, it’s intriguing because the idea originated with noteworthy author JM Barrie’s book and character, Peter Pan. Peter is the quintessential boy who never grew up, trapped forever in a seemingly idyllic realm beyond “the second star to the right and straight on till morning” called Neverland. There, he never has to deal with hardships that come with age, or, as it has been coined in our modern times, “adulting.”
Symptoms of Failure to Launch Syndrome vary but can include a lack of ambition (like not wanting to get a job), a reluctance to make decisions, a fear of commitment, and a resistance to making and sticking to plans. Apparently, it’s more common in males (I see you, Peter), but there are plenty of women who struggle with it, too.
The books below highlight characters of all ages, both sexes, and living across various timelines. Some are stuck in childhood, some in their youth, and others are simply stuck. You’ll see some names you may recognize from classic literature, some you may recognize from recent must-read lists, and some that are more obscure. What these characters have in common is that they struggle to mature or evolve in some way, and their journeys or lack thereof make for extremely interesting books.