Book review: Why We Can't Sleep — by Ada Calhoun

(Grove Press)

In a thoroughly readable, engaging and informative book, author Ada Calhoun delineates many of the extenuating factors — not excuses — for why middle-aged women are plagued with unmanageable insecurities. She interviewed women across the country concentrated on the middle class and utilized her own experiences as well as those of her friends, revealing the unique predicament of Generation X women. Like a middle child, Gen Xers, born between approximately 1965 to 1984, are uncomfortably sandwiched between the much larger generations of baby boomers and millennials. Calhoun brings into focus unique contributing factors to the problems facing this generation, women in particular, as they enter middle age: underemployment, financial insecurity, decision fatigue, perimenopause, caregiving burdens. Gen Xers had largely unsupervised childhoods in an era of rising crime rates, ingested commercialism on a daily basis from innumerable television ads, grew up in the shadow of the nuclear war threats and the ongoing gas crisis. The recognition a middle-aged woman may feel reading this book is both comforting and disconcerting, but Calhoun offers clear and concise information as well as solutions. In the end, being armed with the knowledge she gathered is reassuring and empowering.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop


8 Women at Midlife books

I Miss You When I Blink, by Mary Laura Philpott

I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron

The Beautiful No, by Sheri Salata

The Madwoman in the Volvo, by Sandra Tsing Loh

There Are No Grown-Ups, by Pamela Druckerman

Out of the Woods, by Lynn Darling

I See You Made an Effort, by Annabelle Gurwitch

No Stopping Us Now, by Gail Collins

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