cover image Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis

Ada Calhoun. Grove, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4785-1

Memoirist Calhoun (Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give) explores the stresses keeping Gen X women up at night (both literally and metaphorically) in this bracing, empowering study. As women born between 1965 and 1980 enter middle age, Calhoun writes, they face “a gauntlet of anxieties” related to their status as “the Jan Brady of generations,” sandwiched between older baby boomers and younger millennials. Interviewing middle-class American women she met through friends, social media, and in doctors’ waiting rooms and other random encounters, Calhoun discusses worries about money (“Gen X has more debt than any other generation”), divorce (“our generation are the beta tested victims of the Boomers’ record-high divorce rate”), and caring for young children and ailing parents simultaneously (“the caretaking rack”). She shares her own experiences as well as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Harvard’s Equality of Opportunity Project, among other sources. Despite all the damning statistics (“one in four middle-aged American women is on antidepressants”) and real-life reports of exhaustion, ennui, and husbands who go on ski trips instead of paying the electric bill, Calhoun persuasively reassures Gen X women that they can find a way out of their midlife crises by “facing up to our lives as they really are.” Women of every generation will find much to relate to in this humorous yet pragmatic account. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Jan.)