Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis
By Ada Calhoun
A generation-defining exploration of the new midlife crisis facing Gen X women and the unique circumstances that have brought them to this point, Why We Can't Sleep is a lively successor to Passages by Gail Sheehy and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too?
Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked.
Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation raised to "have it all," Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take "me-time," or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.
In Why We Can't Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X's predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss--and keep the next generation of women from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential reading for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them.
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About the AuthorADA CALHOUN is the author of the memoir Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, named an Amazon Book of the Month and one of the top ten memoirs of 2017 by W magazine; and the history St. Marks Is Dead, one of the best books of 2015, according to Kirkus and the Boston Globe. She has collaborated on several New York Times bestsellers, and written for the New York Times, New York, and The New Republic.
New York Times Editors' Choice
Featured on The Today Show, The Tamron Hall Show, Live with Kelly and Ryan, NPR, and on the Cover of O, Oprah Magazine
The Indie Next Pick of January 2020
One of Vogue's Best Books to Read this Winter
One of 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 by Forbes
Named One of Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2020 "[C]andid and engaging. [Calhoun] is a funny, smart, compassionate narrator.... I admired her insistence on taking women's concerns seriously." --Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times Book Review "Women are taught to not feel anything for ourselves and to not feel for one another. And our generation is the smallest generation...[Why We Can't Sleep] is a book that makes you feel less crazy. Like oh, it is not my imagination."--Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly and Ryan "[A]n engaging hybrid of first-person confession, reportage, pop culture analysis, and statistics... it aspires to something larger than memoir." --The New Republic "[A] Bracing, empowering study... Women of every generation will find much to relate to in this humorous yet pragmatic account." --Publishers Weekly "Calhoun speaks directly to her own generation, peppering the book with so many specific cultural touchstones... that I found reading Why We Can't Sleep to be a singular experience - driving home her point that Gen X is so often overlooked. --Minneapolis Star Tribune "Timely, humane, raw, honest, and sincere."--Forbes, 10 Most Anticipated Books Of 2020, According to Independent Bookstores "Ada Calhoun provides a thoughtful, incisive account of the myriad challenges facing Generation X women." --Shelf Awareness "An assured, affable guide, Calhoun balances bleakness with humor and the hope inherent in sharing stories that will make other women feel less alone. She also gives good advice for finding support through midlife hardship. This is a conversation starter (as well as a no-brainer for book groups that count Gen X women among their members) that might get Boomer and Millennial readers curious, too." --Booklist "Ada Calhoun's soulful investigation into the complex landscape women in midlife face today is downright stunning. Calhoun has captured the voices--some broken, some resilient, many barely staying afloat--of over 200 women from around the country and in doing so, shown us how much we share in divisive times. You will recognize yourself in these pages, breathe a sigh of relief, and think, I'm not alone."--Susannah Cahalan, author of the New York Times bestselling Brain on Fire "This is the book of our generation. Ada Calhoun brilliantly encapsulates the struggle and confusion that is the Gen X woman's experience in middle age. And by placing this condition into the context of the generations coming before and after, she makes sense of how it is that we're so surprised that we have failed at having it all. Heavily researched, expertly paced, and seamlessly woven together, Why We Can't Sleep provides an 'aha' moment that at once validates our experience and establishes a sense of community and hope."--Janet Krone Kennedy, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, author of The Good Sleeper and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor "It's difficult to grapple with the immense anxiety and fear so many women go through alone, but Ada Calhoun's artistry as a writer makes her the perfect guide through the rough business of middle age."--Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill "Helping women realize that some difficulty, some confusion, is not just all in their mind is probably one of your more feminist acts, and the impressive amount of research Ada Calhoun did on the very specific forces, past and present, that are bedeviling Gen X women as they face the strange period that is midlife is just that kind of gift. But the other gift is that she writes with clear sight, compassion, and hope about our very specific talents and tenacity. Which means: this book is a thousand times more healing than a jadeite egg!"--Carlene Bauer, author of Not That Kind of Girl "I love Ada Calhoun's writing. Why We Can't Sleep just took me to school, laughing all the way there."--Adam Horovitz of Beastie Boys