Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty


A funny, fearless, no-holds-barred look at aging—hormone replacement therapy, online dating, eye lifts, and all

As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombarded—at the gym, at parties, in conversations with friends—by a catchphrase on everyone's lips. “Fifty is the new thirty” and the endless magazine articles, photos, and T-shirts proclaiming the new aphorism had apparently bloomed out of a collective sense of ...

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A funny, fearless, no-holds-barred look at aging—hormone replacement therapy, online dating, eye lifts, and all

As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombarded—at the gym, at parties, in conversations with friends—by a catchphrase on everyone's lips. “Fifty is the new thirty” and the endless magazine articles, photos, and T-shirts proclaiming the new aphorism had apparently bloomed out of a collective sense of denial, masking the true fears of a generation unwilling to relinquish their youth.

With a comedy writer's training and a screenwriter's eye for detail, Jackson skewers the myth in a hilarious, bare-knuckled, and ultimately practical appraisal of what middle age really means today. Turning fifty is a wake-up call—but one that can be greeted with a plan. Between a Rock and a Hot Place navigates, with unsparing honesty and unerring wit, the confusion and uncertainty of the most significant uncharted transition in our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

The Oprah Magazine O
“Laugh-out-loud funny.”
Susan Salter Reynolds
“Jackson covers it all . . . with humor and a firm hand. . . . The book is nothing less than what my own grandmother used to call a ‘godsend.’”
Erica Jong
“A fiercely funny book about a most unfunny subject-aging.”
Susan Cheever
“The cure for fear is laughter, and this book offers a powerful antidote to all the scary aspects of aging. Jackson’s stunning candor and sparkling high spirits will have women of all ages laughing as they confront everything from menopause to wrinkles, thanks to this funny, practical and engaging book.”
John Berendt
“Tracey Jackson confronts the speed bumps of life with wit, brilliant insights, and the kind of common sense that leaves you wondering, ‘Now, why didn’t I think of that?’ Between a Rock and a Hot Place is more than a good read, it’s good company.”
Judy Collins
“Between a Rock and a Hot Place is sexy, witty, energizing, smart, and full of terrific advice…. Run, do not walk, to get the book, and then call your nutritionist, your GYN, your health club, your nearest Whole Foods, your mothers and daughters, and tell them all about it.”
“Glib, gossipy, and genuinely gutsy, Jackson’s take on this middle-aged milestone will have any woman who is 50, approaching 50, or waving bye-bye in the rear-view mirror wondering, ‘Who is this woman and how did she get inside my head?’”
Publishers Weekly
In her first book, Huffington Post blogger Jackson, 52, dishes up advice for women on adjusting to aging with no aspect of her life out of bounds. After her doctor reminds her of the benefits of self-satisfaction, she dreams up a masturbatory fantasy starring Jon Stewart; a play date ends with her having to search for her reading glasses to decipher a sex-toy instruction manual. Also candid about her cosmetic procedures, Jackson confesses that though her face drooped like a stroke victim's after getting 40 Botox shots in one visit, her solution was to get more Botox and other toxins injected on a regular basis. Jackson also shares how after her screenwriting career spiraled downward due in part, she believes, to ageism, she took more control by producing and directing a documentary; her grieving when her firstborn flew the nest for college; and the crushing, sudden death of her best friend. Jackson's financial tips are sensible if familiar, but the happily married author's fake tryout of an Internet dating site seems insulting to singles. Jackson is a perceptive guide to the country of aging, but her frankness and self-deprecating humor often veer into crude and off-putting territory. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Finally, there is a voice of reality to counter the claims of a youth-oriented culture and put forward the idea that successful aging isn't about denying reality, but planning for the future. Screenwriter Jackson writes with the humor of Nora Ephron, the honesty of a fiftysomething, and the reality of medical science to commiserate on the aging process (e.g., death of friends) and help readers prepare for the best future life possible. Jackson acknowledges what needs to be done (e.g., getting that colonoscopy and making wise financial choices) in a way that fellow baby boomers will appreciate. Recommended for all public libraries and as a birthday gift for friends turning 60 (fiftysomethings may still be in denial).
Kirkus Reviews

Breezy chick-lit memoir/self-help manual for the menopausal woman by screenwriter Jackson (Confessions of a Shopaholic), who works hard to be funny and sometimes succeeds.

The author begins by assessing her grandmother as having been too negligent of her body and appearance and her mother as obsessed with her looks but misguided. After the chapter on Botox and plastic surgery, readers may well conclude that the author is a tad obsessed as well, but with the advantage of newer tools and information. First, though, Jackson looks at the horrors of menopause and the effects of declining estrogen production on a woman's libido. The author has fun with a fantasy-aided masturbation scene and another involving sex toys too complicated for a middle-aged couple. The declining-estrogen chapter leads naturally into a discussion of the numerous health woes that can beset the no-longer-young. Jackson also tackles losses—of one's job, which threatens one's identity; of children, who grow up and leave home; of friends and acquaintances taken away by death. She makes an attempt at financial advice for those turning 50: Live within your income and plan ahead. Then the author returns to a more entertaining topic—meeting men on the Internet. She conducts an experiment using herself as guinea pig and concludes that there are in fact decent men out there, and the Internet is one way for a middle-aged woman to find them, if she has patience and perseverance. If there's a take-home message, it's that at 50, don't fool yourself into believing that you are still youthful and that the best is yet to come. However, there is still time to live life fully as a mature woman.

The self-help aspects are overshadowed by the author's self-centeredness, and her prolonged quest for a youthful appearance belies her ostensible message about recognizing one's maturity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062017956
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Edition description: Larger Pri
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracey Jackson

A screenwriter for seventeen years, Tracey Jackson has written and sold films to all the major studios. She blogs on her own website and for the Huffington Post. She lives in New York City with her husband, Glenn Horowitz, and two daughters. You can follow her on Twitter @ TraceyJackson4.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 12, 2011

    Kritters Ramblings

    A great read for those who are about to embark on that special birthday that puts them in the second half of their life. Although, I may be a little young to be reading this book, with a mom who has recently entered this new era, I found this book to be informative as to the emotions that she may be dealing with.

    A funny account of all the physical and emotional impacts that occur after you hit the hump of the mid life crisis - however it may happen. This book would be a helpful guide to those who may be inching close to this part of their life, in the thick of it, or just beyond. Jackson talks about everything from mood swings to financial planning. I enjoyed the fact that she covered the whole spectrum of how life changes once the big 5-0 is reached.

    I would definitely recommend this book to both women my age who have parents who may be facing this time of life or to those who are facing this time of life themselves. A quirky account of how a hypochondriac is facing all the old age illnesses that may occur at this time in a woman's life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2011

    Absolute Must Read

    This book, in all honesty, is one of the most honest, hilarious books I have had the pleasure of reading. Sit down and read will not regret it. Jackson is my hero

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! BABY BOOMERS, 50+ Women- this is for you-

    Couldn't put this down....Tracey Jackson's writing style is honest, sincere and really funny. She tackles sensitive topics like menopause and lessened sexual desire (and sex toys) in a manner that you just can't help but chuckle. Don't walk....RUN out now (or click ) and buy this book-highly recommended!

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Attention women of a certain age- read this!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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