The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis Is Transforming Today's Women

Sue Shellenbarger, Author . Holt $24 (263p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7711-7

When Shellenbarger wrote about her midlife crisis in one of her Wall Street Journal "Work & Family" columns, reader response was overwhelming. So she decided to investigate those "psychological and spiritual upheavals [that] have been mistaken for menopause symptoms and reduced to a biological phenomenon." Relying on interviews with 50 women between their late 30s and mid-50s and four studies of aging—and heavily indebted to a Jungian perspective—this catchy work is tailor-made for the "36% of women who will eventually have what they regard as midlife crises" (and it's right up the Oprah and Dr. Phil alley, too). Shellenbarger delineates six archetypes: the Adventurer, the Lover, the Leader, the Artist, the Gardener and the Seeker, who meet the crisis through six modes of transition (Sonic Boom, Moderate, Slow Burn, Flameout, Meltdown and Non-Starter). Contrary to popular wisdom, Shellenbarger says, "the vital juices of joy, sexuality, and self-discovery are bubbling within, more powerfully and compellingly than ever" at midlife. The Artist might rediscover her creativity; the Gardener, who "focuses deeply on the elements of the life she already has," might look for ways to revitalize old interests. The road to personal growth can be bumpy, Shellenbarger writes (and sometimes it's hard to distinguish it from "the path to perdition"), but her book offers an illuminating guide. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/07/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 267 pages - 978-0-8050-8031-5
Ebook - 978-1-62779-887-7
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