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Book Review of: Midlife Crisis at 30
We highly recommend Midlife Crisis at 30.
|Midlife Crisis at 30, by Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin|
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, who made it past 30.
While this book was intended for a female audience, I (as a man) found it struck chord after chord with me. And while this book was intended for Generation Xers, I found it hit many of the same issues my own generation (baby boomers) have faced--especially those of us boomers who were born just at the end of the baby boom.
The crisp writing is evidence of the journalistic backgrounds the authors bring to the table. And so are the many interviews. The authors drew on widely varying experiences and stories, to paint a mosaic of what women face at the age of 30. That mosaic consists of a range of pressures based on unrealistic expectations. Just look at three such expectations, for example:
Expectation to look young forever. I remember when my own mother turned 30. She was sitting on the porch with a neighbor, when the neighbor's husband joked about her being over the hill and the need to trade up to a new dishwasher. While he thought that was harmless humor, he wasn't far off the mark in conveying the way women are often perceived in certain occupations (for example, acting) or in certain social environments. I remember watching an episode of Love American Style, where a man walks into an appliance store advertising "Trade in your dishwasher." He then walks out with a younger woman. In America, women are expected to be permanently young and beautiful. One actress, for example, was getting botox at the age of 29. Why are women not valued for who they are? Why is it bad, if they are themselves?
Expectation to bear children. This is one of the problems the book discussed. Yes, many women feel a pressure not to look old, because their looks are more valued than their maturity. But at the other end of the spectrum, most women feel pressure to have children once they hit 30--because their their biological clocks are ticking loudly by that time. This pressure is both biological and social. And it can be immensely burdensome.
Expectation to have it all. What does this mean? This is the central issue this book deals with, and it's here that we male baby boomers are saying, "Been there, done that, doing it again." For women, however, this expectation is more complex than for men. And at about the age of 30, women are declining in their ability to meet the two expectations mentioned above. The book delves into this expectation in a way that, while using examples of 30-ish women, has near universal resonance with everyone else.
Understanding these expectations and the effects they have on women who are at or around 30 years old can help any person who has work-based or social interaction with these women. And, it can help you understand your own expectations, if you are in some other category than a 30-ish woman.
But the real power of the book is how all of this builds toward the final chapter, "Guts and Grace." It is there that the reader gains insights from women who have passed through their 30s--perhaps decades ago. What the women say is truly valuable. But even more valuable are the object lessons they bring. No longer concerned with the pettiness of meeting other people's expectations of appearance, youth, wealth, position, or other less meaningful aspects of life, these women are examples to other women--and to men.
For people feeling disappointed by, disillusioned with, or overwhelmed by life, this book brings hope. As one woman says in the final chapter, "...this is my life, and it is what I have. I am going to make the most of it." I like the fact that this woman, and others quoted in the book, explain the meaning behind that thought.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.