The 88-year-old author offers an honest take on what old age is really like.
In her latest, anthropologist Thomas (The Hidden Life of Life: A Walk Through the Reaches of Time, 2018, etc.) turns her curiosity about all things natural toward a subject that many choose to ignore, willfully or not: “Why write a book about old age? Nobody wants it. Nobody likes it.” However, she writes, “the aging process is an essential part of the human story, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s as strange as it is captivating—a venture to the unknown.” In a plainspoken narrative, the author covers a variety of topics, including gravesites and cemeteries, the pros and cons of cremation and burial, the physical changes her body has gone through during her long life, independent living, assisted living, home health aides, and the benefits and pitfalls of living alone, as Thomas does on a farm in New Hampshire. The author encourages everyone, old and young, to properly prepare for death and to leave your final wishes in written form so they can be carried out efficiently. With each age-related topic, Thomas writes candidly and with occasional dark humor, sharing both the good and the bad, which includes such expected ills as memory loss and the slow decline of her physical abilities. Given her experiences, the author is insightful—if not groundbreaking—on most topics. In some of her more meandering prose, Thomas shares snippets of information about her previous adventures, which might lead readers to search out her other books. In this one, the author provides readable, forthright discussions of aging that will resonate most with older readers. Though not earth-shattering in any way, the narrative shows all readers that “death is the price we pay for life.”
A straightforward and sometimes humorous analysis of the pros and cons of old age.