Book offers unblinking look at midlife

by
MennoMedia staff
;
May 8, 2017
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Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia
Book cover.
Jennifer Grant
Winnipeg, Man. and Harrisonburg, Va.

The questions of midlife are quieter and deeper than clichés involving motorcycles and illicit affairs suggest. Who have I become? Is this all there is to life? Why does God feel so distant at this point of my life? Or, to quote musician Paul Simon, “Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.”

Author and veteran columnist Jennifer Grant takes an unblinking and often humorous look at the transitions of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (Herald Press, May 2017).

From the emptying nest to the sagging effects of aging, Grant acknowledges the complexities and loss inherent in midlife. As she leads readers through the events of her 40s, stories of loss and crushing identity and faith crises are followed by chapters marked with acceptance and gratitude as she finally gets her footing in midlife.

“I started my forties looking too often into the mirror and getting tangled up in my thoughts – my goals, my shifting identity, my disappointments, my hopes,” Grant says. “As I leave this decade behind, I find myself focusing less on me and more on how I might, bit by incremental bit, help to make the world more whole.”

As Grant addresses issues like hormonal swings and a teenager’s scorn, Grant’s middle-aged readers will recognize themselves in the pages. More than just a memoir, When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? encourages readers to live fully and embrace this stage of life. Author Jon Sweeney calls the book a “necessary, awakening memoir,” and journalist and religion writer Cathleen Falsani writes, “What I didn’t expect was to have my breath taken away, torrents of tears followed – sometimes on the same page – by uncontrollable belly laughs.”

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat, notes, “This memoir, unexpectedly, helped me look forward to experiencing my forties and fifties.”

Of her own middle age, Grant notes that she and her husband will be empty nesters in four short years. “Our two daughters will be gone, grown, off discovering the people and purposes that will shape their adult lives,” Grant describes. “As much as my heart will strain sometimes, and feel as if it just might tear apart with missing my children, this is all as it should be.”

Jennifer Grant is a writer, editor, and speaker. A former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is the author of four previous books, including the adoption memoir Love You More. Her work has also been published at websites such as Aleteia/For Her and on the Sojourner magazine blog God’s Politics. Grant is a long-time member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and lives in Wheaton with her husband, four children, and two rescue dogs. Find her online at jennifergrant.com or on Twitter @jennifercgrant.

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? is available for $19.99 at www.commonword.ca/go/1195.

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