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Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood Paperback – December 27, 2005


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Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood + Fifty Is the New Fifty: Ten Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood + The Next Fifty Years: A Guide for Women at Midlife and Beyond
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452287219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452287211
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Levine has a message for aging boomer women: if you're feeling out of sorts, confused, in a rut, there's nothing wrong with you: you're just entering your "Second Adulthood," a time, she says, when women can remake themselves. Levine, Ms. magazine's editor for 17 years and now a contributor to More magazine (and author of Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First), draws on the latest research on hormonal and other physical changes women begin to go through in their 40s, and draws on 50 in-depth interviews she conducted with women in their middle years to show how they can improve their lives. Levine's subjects describe a time of confusion (the "fertile void") that led them to re-sort their lives, revise priorities and make new decisions about work and intimate relationships. Samantha, for example, left an alcoholic husband after decades of marriage. Joanie, a traditional wife and mother, renegotiated her marriage and bought herself an apartment in New York City, becoming a fund-raiser for a dance company. Although Levine did interview some women with fewer economic resources and she discusses the importance of financial planning, much of the self-discovery stories will resonate best with women who are financially comfortable. Her gung-ho go-rappelling-off-the-mountain tone may grate on some women while inspiring others.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Levine takes us beyond the frontier of our own expectations and into a new and hope-filled stage of life.” —Gloria Steinem



“I found so many resonances with my own experiences in this book… It will have a huge impact and will clarify so many things for so many women.”—Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., author of In a Different Voice and The Birth of Pleasure



“Suzanne Braun Levine made me understand why I always envied older women . . . life just gets better—more outrageous, more radical, more passionate, less fraught, wiser, deeper, and kinder.” —Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues



“A you-go-girl manual for the menopause crowd.”—People


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Suzanne Braun Levine is a good thinker, a good writer and a good teacher.
Susan A. Lieberman
I need to lead myself into new terrain, and find my own voice, and I don't need cheerleading and labels.
Robin
I read this book because my friend sent an excerpt and I liked what I read.
"Fertile" Myrtle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Jane Adams on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you charted your 20's, 30's and 40's with Gail Sheehy's "Passages" and found nothing to help you through the next part of your life except books on menopause and others telling you that gray hair and an expanding waistline are better than youth and beauty, you'll love this realistic, empathetic and, yes, inspiring book! Like the journalist she is, Levine has interviewed hundreds of women, and many scientists and other experts, to understand what really happens to us, psychologically as well as medically, as we navigate these years. She makes a good case for her thesis, which is that not only our bodies are changing - our brains, needs and priorities are, too. The "fertile void" is a brilliant and spot-on description of the chaos and confusion of second adulthood that plunges every woman who's defined herself up to now by her obligations to others or the demands of her career (and often both) into a sometimes painful reexamination of her life - what's in it that we treasure, what's missing that we need or want, what possibilities still exist for making a difference in the world as well as in our own lives, and where the energy will come from for for realizing them. My book club just started reading it, and we've been burning up the phone wires to discuss it even before our next meeting. A must-read for every woman who reaches a landmark birthday still wondering, "What am I going to be when I grow up?"
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Alva Benn on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most inspiring books I've read in a long time. For those of us in our 50s and 60s, there's more ahead than retirement and taking care of aging parents, aging men, and growing grandchildren. Levine gives us stories of regular women who have tackled brand new careers, learned skills they always wanted to learn but never had time for, renegotiated their marriages and renewed their love-lives. And she also gives us scientific research that shows women's brains have a growth spurt in the 50s that renews our strength and our intellectual curiosity. Keep this book by your bedside and read it every night and your morning will be brighter.
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101 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Robin on August 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was very much looking forward to reading this. I'm approaching my 40th birthday, and wanted to hear how others had dealt with this transition. In all fairness, Ms. Braun does interview many women on their transitions. However, the language is superificial, sometimes to the point of being annoyingly "cutesy". For example her term "Fertile Void" which is defined once, is used as a critical thread throughout the work, as though it's a sociological phenomena. If the book had been written about that term specifically, maybe things could have been interesting.

OK, there is a period of time where one doesn't know which path to take, but I hate labels, especially cute ones, especially when applied to grown-up women facing serious challenges. I need to lead myself into new terrain, and find my own voice, and I don't need cheerleading and labels. I found the "rah-rah" attitude really lame.

Worse still, the term "F-You Fifties"...I'm sorry, but I got over that language a long, long time ago. I don't think it's amusing.

One of the "success stories" was from a woman who, when she lights up her joints (marijuana) today, has much more pleasant trips. Frankly I felt offended and patronized, and I am no prude...I grew up on Ms. magazine, I went to a Seven Sister school, and I'm from NYC.

I was truly expecting More, as in that wonderful magazine for which Ms. Braun works...
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Calilmalith on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was attracted to this book because I was turning 50 and finding it unexpectedly disturbing. The book was interesting enough but not very useful. I didn't really find out anything I didn't already know - other than there were a lot more women out there who were going through, or had been through, a similar re-evaluation. So while it was vaguely comforting, it wasn't at all inspiring or particuarly helpful. I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone who hasn't had a traditional married-with-kids-plus-career lifestyle.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jean Boggio on July 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
One premise of this book, you are not who you were, only older, seems such a simple truth once you are aware of it. I only wish I had read this book at age fifty instead of age seventy. Fortunately, I have good health and energy and have quite a number of years left in which to make use of this new knowledge. It does, however, explain the phenomenon that enabled me to achieve what I did in my fifties and sixties.

In my fifties I was clearly in the Fertile Void -- trying desperately to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I had to make a living, that much was clear. Ms. Levine's description of the process -- and the discoveries are a process -- mirrored my own struggles. In my sixties I undertook two major creative projects that satisfied some lifelong interests. This book enabled me to see that my experience was part of a greater community and I was not alone.

The Fertile Void, according to Ms. Levine, is what women pass through at the beginning of our second adulthood -- a time rife with possibilities and it can be daunting. For me, it occurred post-divorce when I was being pushed back into the work world. There were decisions to be made and I might have made better, more interesting ones if I had the advantage of seeing the bigger picture at that time. The journey through the Fertile Void should not be hurried, although it is an uncomfortable time, a time of not knowing, of discovering. There is a second adolescence before the second adulthood is reached, and it's almost as painful as the first, only in different ways.

The journey is about rediscovering your passion -- which doesn't necessarily come in a blinding epiphany -- and facing your fears. It's knowing what you cannot change, and changing what you can.
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