An upbeat, empathetic, and practical guide to becoming “an old person in training.”



A satisfying exploration of how growing older offers significant, rich new experiences.

Applewhite (Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, 1997, etc.), cited by Forbes as one of Forty Women to Watch Over 40, in 2017, argues convincingly that ageism—like racism and sexism—is a form of demeaning prejudice, inaccurately generalizing the experiences of older adults and promoting the idea that old age is repulsive and lonely. Drawing on abundant studies and interviews, she exhorts readers “to wake up to the ageism in and around us, embrace a more nuanced and accurate view of growing older, cheer up, and push back.” Stereotypes of old age—geezer, biddy, codger, etc.—convey negativity. “Those stereotypes,” she writes, “are ours to reject or subvert on the way to more compelling and accurate aspirational identities.” But rejecting such stereotypes should not lead to strategies such as dying hair, applying creams and potions, and taking pills that promise “to erase the trace of time.” Applewhite debunks many prevalent assumptions about aging, including failing memory, weakened physical ability, and overall lack of attractiveness and competence. She notes that forgetfulness “is not Alzheimer’s, or dementia, or even necessarily a sign of cognitive impairment”; rates of dementia are falling, she has discovered, even as the population is aging. Moreover, especially “in the emotional realm, older brains are more resilient,” better able to deal with negative emotions and change. Everyone ages at a different rate, she writes: “There is no line in the sand, no crossover between young and old after which it’s all downhill.” Viewing 60 or 70—or even 40—as the beginning of the end necessarily has an impact on self-image and outlook. Among the author’s suggestions for creating “an all-age-friendly world” are creating increased opportunities for older people to contribute “socially, civically, and economically” to the community; improving research into the biology of aging and the social implications of longevity; and expanding the training of geriatric medical practitioners as well as resources for older learners and workers.

An upbeat, empathetic, and practical guide to becoming “an old person in training.”

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31148-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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