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Monday, February 7, 2011

Between A Rock & A Hot Place

Between A Rock And A Hard Place- Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty by Tracey Jackson
Published by Harper Collins- ISBN 978-0-06-166927-9
Hardcover, $25.99

I normally don't read 'self-help' books, but since I can see the age of 50 peeking around the corner, Tracey Jackson's Between a Rock and a Hot Place- Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty beckoned to me.

Jackson takes us on her own personal journey to the age of fifty. She takes on menopause and hormone replacement therapy, marriage, sex, online dating, work and cosmetic surgery.

She starts with her grandmother's generation, women who lived through the depression, and therefore turning fifty was not traumatic to them. Those women did not try to avoid getting older; they were grateful for it.

Jackson's mother was one of the first women in her age group to jump on the cosmetic surgery bandwagon. She watched her mother try every cream, new procedure, and even travel to Eastern Europe for treatments not yet available in the United States.  (Who knew Eastern Europe was the Fountain of Youth?) It's interesting that she and her mother are now estranged.

Menopause is a big topic in the book, and Jackson describes her symptoms in graphic detail; it's like a horror movie for middle-aged women. She takes on the hormone replacement controversy head-on, and I liked that she told her own story, she didn't preach to us as to the ultimate answer for all women. It's up to us all to research, talk to our doctors and make our own decisions.

Speaking of doctors, she comments that
"When I was thirty, I had four doctors in my address book: a gynecologist, a dentist, a GP and a vet. At fifty, I have thirty-four." 
Even though she admits to being a bit of a hypochondriac, she still has a point. Think about how many specialists we have to see now that we're older :gynecologist, radiologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, dermatologist, gastoenterologist- you get the idea. 

There is some humor in the book, and the scene she describes where she and her husband decide to spice up their love life by purchasing some adult toys is too funny. She has to get her reading glasses to see the tiny print on the instructions, and then a part of it rolls under the bed where the dog refuses to give it up. It's like an x-rated I Love Lucy episode.

Jackson also takes on some topics not usually mentioned in books about aging. She is a screenwriter, and she talks about the difficulties of a woman trying to find work after the age of fifty. Sexism/ageism is alive and well in her work arena, and I'm sure many women in other fields know her pain. Her frustration is painful to read, but her determination to find a way to work at something she loves is inspiring.

She also takes on the invisibility of women to men after a certain age. Once women are no longer young, men no longer look at them. Her honesty about this topic really speaks to women.

Jackson writes honestly about her life, and her thoughts on aging really gave me food for thought. Her writing style is concise, as one would expect from a screenwriter, so the book read quickly. Any woman heading towards menopause will do well to buy this book.

Rating 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Mark at Harper Collins for providing a review copy of this book.

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