Candid, often charming revelations from a host of articulate women.

ON BEING 40(ISH)

Fifteen women share their thoughts about life’s transitions.

In her debut book, journalist Mead gathers essays by women in their late 30s to early 50s, reflecting on love, friendship, careers, family, dating, and self-image, among many other issues that have become important as they face a challenging new decade of their lives. Although the editor underscores the “divergent voices” in the collection, the majority of the contributors are white, middle-class, successful writers (one, Sujean Rim, is an illustrator who offers a cartoon about giving up skinny jeans). They do, however, reveal diverse experiences: Meghan Daum, memoirist columnist for the New York Times Book Review, has settled into single life and a fruitful career in Manhattan; still, she feels a “current of constant low-grade shock…about how old I’ve managed to become.” KJ Dell’Antonia, editor of the New York Times’ “Motherlode” column, apologizes for not answering an email message because of the many more important tasks (buying bread, snuggling her son) that occupy her time. Essayist Sloane Crosley assesses the changes in her middle-aged face. Two particularly moving pieces concern friendship: Catherine Newman’s chronicle of the outfits she and her best friend wore, beginning in kindergarten, in 1972, and ending in 2015, when Newman cherishes her friend’s tunics, yoga pants, and Ugg boots after she died of ovarian cancer. “I am wearing my heart on my sleeve,” she writes, “my memories like a crazy quilt of loss.” It took a shattered bone for novelist Allison Winn Scotch, who prided herself on being stubbornly independent, to see that friends and family can be extraordinarily caring, “more worthy than you realized, even when you already found them worthy enough.” The essays are interspersed with brief remarks about the biggest surprise, most important lesson, or most salient mantra gleaned from getting older and, the writers hope, wiser. “Everything looks better, feels better, and is way more manageable in the morning,” offers Lee Woodruff, whose husband’s (journalist Bob Woodruff) roadside bomb injury was the subject of one of her memoirs.

Candid, often charming revelations from a host of articulate women.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7212-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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