Why are some women able to handle adversity while others remain victims? To find out, Chellis (Living with the Kennedys--not...


"ORDINARY WOMEN, EXTRAORDINARY LIVES: How to Overcome Adversity and Achieve Positive Change in Your Life"

Why are some women able to handle adversity while others remain victims? To find out, Chellis (Living with the Kennedys--not reviewed) interviewed dozens of women who changed themselves and their lives as they triumphed over stressful circumstances. Among her interviewees, Chellis found a pattern that she calls a process of self-empowerment. Exemplified here in the lives of eight women (ex-addicts and victims of accidents or abuse), it is a five-step sequence beginning with emotional acceptance, requiring identification with others who have similar problems, and seizing chances to make choices before finding relief and comfort. In Chellis's view--and from her own experience as a recovered alcoholic--being able to reach out and empower others is the concluding step; in other words, sharing her experiences was, for each of these women, an integral part of the process. The stories themselves are quietly inspirational: a wheelchair-bound woman who became a TV anchor; a homeless mother of ten who organized her shelter population and later became a school nurse; a ski-accident victim who won a triathlon competition. Not one of these women is famous, but all have struggled against substantial obstacles, faced failure or loss along the way, and emerged feeling successful and in control. Aware of the tenacity of resistance to change, Chellis encourages largely by example--without overemphasizing her basic themes or discounting the difficulties--and bolsters her observations with support from bestseller favorites (Judith Viorst, Bernie S. Siegel) and other insightful sources (Mary Catherine Bateson, Robert Jay Lifton, Carol Gilligan). A very satisfying account of individual triumphs and personal transformations, with strong pulling power.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1992


Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1991