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

A New Book on Women’s Midlife Crisis

I am seeing this book, Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun, everywhere about now and it has caught my attention as I am the author’s target audience: a Gen X female who supposedly cannot sleep during this stage of my life. Given there are not many books written — at least yet — on Generation X, I thought it would be interesting to peruse the author’s insights on what she and the many Gen X women she interviewed for this book had to say about their experiences.

Apparently there was a lot they had to say and the book feels like a whirlwind with tons of interviews covering women my age feeling just about everything — everything negative and wrong that is. From money woes to husband troubles to never feeling good enough with their professional decisions to wondering if the whole path taken should not have been taken to begin with — this books strikes me as a place to give credence to how bad it all is — and that it really began when we were born and how we were raised.

I think a book that is written by a woman who is my age and focuses on women of my age is to be commended. Most of the time, the midlife crisis genre belongs to men. How refreshing to have a modern look at it today from a woman’s perspective. About time.

However, I cannot agree with how this author sits in the muck of it all. I believe that’s most comfortable for most people and for society in general, but it tends to bore me these days. How bad life can be at this stage or at any stage at all. And then to compile a book with all of the bad feelings and stories and then offer up some quick advice on how to combat all of this bad. It really feels pop psych gone bad.

To me, this is one of the easy ways we let ourselves live and then feel heard — when books like this come along and support our bad feelings. We love to dwell in the bad. If you are reading this and saying to yourself, but it really is bad, I believe you and I also want to challenge you on that thought.

If you think about a given day, how many people do you know who think, express, dwell in good thoughts, ideas, pleasure, complements, and other things that uplift people? I bet you probably can’t even find a single person today. Sad to me. If it is all about the complaining, the worrying, the nagging — and most of American society dwells in this to be honest – it is actually almost like eating a chocolate chip cookie to read about others misery alongside your own.

Harder still? Finding meaning and making meaning of your life no matter what stage we are in in life. Yes, your hormones may be changing, as is your husband and your kids and your parents, and so are you. Being resilient, curious, and welcoming to all that is changing is a way to meet the midlife crisis with an open heart that leads to authentic growth.

Where is that book? The one that looks at my generation of women and celebrates the change — of it all.