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User-friendly guide for women who have entered that dreaded midlife decade and need reassurance about dealing with it.
With the assistance of Fox (co-author: Sexual Fitness, 2000), California-based therapist Brokaw proposes that embracing five core values—grace, connectedness, accomplishment, adventure and spirituality—gives women the strength (the "fortytude") they need to succeed at this stage of life. To reach this conclusion, she interviewed a wide variety of women across the United States, ranging in age from late 30s to early 50s. After an upbeat introduction in which the author urges women to think of life's challenges not as problems but as "sparkling moments," she explains what is meant by each of the five core values and introduces women who personify them. To demonstrate grace, she talks about women accepting their less-than-perfect appearance and aging gracefully. The section on connectedness explores women's friendships with other women and with intimate partners, mentoring relationships with younger women and one's relationship with oneself; accomplishment includes single mothers and stay-at-home mothers as well as career women. In discussing adventure, Brokaw discusses women who have reinvigorated their sex lives, changed careers and found new partners, but she also counsels that small changes, such as trying a new recipe or listening to different music, can bring adventure into a life that has become dulled by routine. The author is less successful in her discussion of spirituality, which boils down to some sort of vague inner peace. The text has a homey tone, and the author personalizes her message with stories from her own life and that of family members. As an aid to readers, she includes checklists and exercises that she has used in her therapy practice.
This innocuous, easy-to-read addition to the self-help literature for women comes with the advantage of the author's famous surname—she is the daughter of newscaster Tom Brokaw—which may give readers an extra measure of confidence in her advice.