Top positive review
55 people found this helpful
Good topic, good analysis, well written
on March 14, 2004
It might strike one as rather odd that I, a committed member of the male gender with his feet firmly planted in the category of senior citizen, should be reviewing a book that is more or less intended for the young female member of the present generation whose feet are barely planted on the ground. But sometimes one is asked to do what appears at first to be somewhat strange, which later turns out to be both an interesting and insightful encounter.
Such is the case with this book by two successful and experienced journalists, Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin, about the midlife-crisis problem which seems to affect many professional women at around the age of thirty or so in American society today. I won't pretend for a moment that I can directly and intimately relate to the specific situations they describe, but I can at least glimpse some of its enigmas, frustrations, and ramifications since many of us men go through a similar, albeit not exact, form of personal crisis usually around the age of forty or so. Alas, as with puberty, the females reach this life-challenging singularity before we males do.
The midlife crisis discussed in this book is grounded on the fact that a significant number of the fifty-eight million young women of what is now called Generation X/Y seem to undergo powerful conflicts in their work/life circumstances and at a very early age in their careers. This is occurring even before marriage and children are part of the situation. So, considering this problem as worthy of an investigation, Macko and Rubin set about to use the latest research and census data and, I think more importantly, interviews with more than one hundred college-educated career women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-seven in an attempt to come up with some critical analyses and some plausible resolutions. I think in general that they were successful in accomplishing both tasks.
One of the things that made the reading of this book enjoyable for me was that I was familiar with many of the women whom the authors interviewed and whose contributions ended up being presented in the book, such as former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, whom I didn't vote for but have admired for many years for her astute political analysis, and Rikki Klieman, a brilliant trial attorney whom I've watched many times hosting a program on Court-TV. There are others whose personal stories are interesting and enlightening, and with whom I'm acquainted, including the prominent Republican strategist Mary Matalin, CNN host Paula Zahn, and novelist Judy Blume, one of whose books (dare I admit it?) I read some years ago to uncover what all the fuss was about regarding some books she wrote for young girls.
There is one conclusion I have come to after reading this book. While contemporary women may be having their midlife crisis earlier than men do, and there are some significant differences in the way they experience it from the way men do, it is surprising that many of the questions they are asking themselves are similar to the questions men ask themselves when they experience their own midlife crisis. Unfortunately, men going through their crisis tend to do so silently and in secret, while the women are intelligent and clever enough to be more open and conversant. Men should take a cue from this. They might suffer less.
Of course, there is one really big consideration in the female's midlife crisis that men do not have to directly deal with and that is motherhood and children and how to integrate that into one's career as a professional woman. Macko and Rubin include some interesting insights into that situation. Men, after all, don't get pregnant and have to figure out how to wrestle with that situation in the workplace (I suspect that if men did have to go through a pregnancy, whether in the workplace or not, the human race would shortly cease to exist!).
There are many questions raised in this book which are familiar to those of us who have a philosophical bent and they are not really new questions, just old questions asked within a contemporary context. For instance, questions about happiness, and fulfillment, and perfection. Can I have it all -- career and family and a rewarding personal relationship? Or, if not, why not? If I can't have it all, what can I settle for and be happy with? What really is the good life, especially for me? What are my priorities and, in light of my desires, what am I willing to compromise or ask someone else to compromise? Heady stuff, that, with roots that go back into antiquity.
All right, one can get carried away here, so I'll cease and desist. I'll just simply say that this book is very well written and deserves a wide audience especially among those young women coming of age who are thinking about both career and family and how to integrate their roles within both enterprises. I think this book will provide some insight and much food for thought and self-reflection. I won't hesitate to recommend this book to the male reader either, since, being the progressive-minded senior citizen that I am, and having come of age in a far more restrictive generation when it comes to career women, I think it's high-time for us members of the opposite gender to try to understand just what it is that our partners-in-living are going through when they experience their midlife crisis. "Audiatur et altera pars."