The traditional family is no more: half of all marriages today end in divorce, and approximately one-third of children under the age of 18 live with only one parent. Yet while a multitude of books have been written about children of divorce, few show a split's effects on these children as they grow into adults and attempt to forge their own romantic and familial relationships.
Stephanie Staal, a newspaper reporter whose parents divorced when she was 13, tackles this issue not by presenting studies and recommending solutions or policies, but by sharing the stories of 120 "Generation Ex-" adults whose parents divorced when they were children. These are the kids who grew up in the '70s and '80s, when divorce was becoming increasingly common. These are the kids who are now adults longing for intimacy and connection, but fearing commitment and expecting failure, abandonment, and hurt.
"For my generation, divorce has taken on the social proportions of a Great Depression, a World War II, or a Vietnam in influencing our lives," writes Staal. "Divorce struck in the privacy of our own homes, shaking our beliefs about family to the core." The path to healing for these Generation Exes, she believes, lies in recognizing the far-reaching effects of divorce, and in learning--often through the experience of others--how to overcome the trauma of divorce to fashion satisfying lives and relationships.
Like Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters, Staal's eloquent words shine the light on a massive social issue that has been explored from almost every angle possible, except for the one that perhaps counts most of all: from the mouths of the babes who experienced it. --Nancy Monson
From Publishers Weekly
Anyone contemplating divorce, or marriage for that matter, will think twice about the health and well-being of their children over the long haul after reading this intensely personal examination of how the author and 120 other adult children whose parents divorced in the 1970s and '80sA"America's first divorce generation"Ahave fared. Her male and female interviewees have two important traits in common: they were all under the age of 18 when their parents divorced, and their ability to engage in and maintain intimate relationships as adults has been severely affected by the legacy they share. Writes Staal, "Recognizing that we have been affected is only the first part of the journey; the second and harder part is exploring how." Although Staal dismisses the outsiders' perspective of divorce "experts," her observations echo the recent findings of clinical psychologist Judith S. Wallerstein's 25-year longitudinal study of the effects of divorce on children. Staal's writing is marred by overreaching metaphors and moments of forced drama, though she is at her best when she shares the sometimes disturbing stories she has gathered. In the end, her cohesive and thoughtful commentary offers a sense of hope, corroborated by her own progress and the positive examples of some of her interviewees. Just as Hope Edelman's bestselling Motherless Daughters offered so many women a sense of camaraderie and empathy, Staal gives adult children of divorce reason to believe that by working through the past they can achieve and maintain healthy relationships with their own partners and children.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.