Not just for the religious; a familiar but useful guide for embracing aging.

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LIFE AFTER YOUTH

THE STORY OF ONE MAN’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE TRANSITION AT MIDLIFE

A philosophical and theological treatise discussing the emotional upheavals experienced during the transition into middle age and the joys to be discovered if the transition is understood and appreciated.

Sammon (A Heart That Knew No Bounds, 2013, etc.), who first published this volume in 1997, has released a newly edited edition “at the request of a new generation of midlife readers.” In 1994, at the age of 47, Sammon was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that required surgery. The treatment was successful, but the experience inspired him to reflect on and eventually write about his personal journey into middle age—the physical and emotional changes as well as the opportunities for a greater understanding of self. Sammon is a member of the clergy, a Marist Brother, and so this exploration also includes a reevaluation of his relationship with God. It’s the transitional period itself that primarily concerns Sammon, those years when “time starts to pinch. We sense that we have crossed a threshold and begin to realize that probably more time lies behind us than stretches ahead.” He defines middle age as between 40 and 65, to be followed by “late and late, late adulthood,” which have their own periods of transition. Much of this territory is well-trod, but Sammon’s clear prose and wry humor (“And let’s be honest: when the leg muscles of an eighteen-year-old boy fire, he takes off like an antelope; when a man of forty-five tries to do the same, he tears his Achilles tendon”) make this short text accessible and pleasant. Don’t look back at what is lost when aging, Sammon urges. Rather, turn forward joyfully to the adventure of becoming the more knowledgeable, more compassionate, more loving individual that will define you as you travel through life’s second half.

Not just for the religious; a familiar but useful guide for embracing aging.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5377-3377-7

Page Count: 108

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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