“There Are No Grown-ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story” by Pamela Druckerman— Life at 40

Druckerman, Pamela. “There Are No Grown-ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story”, Penguin Press, 2018.

Life at 40

Amos Lassen

Oh, to be 40 again!!! But then Pamela Druckerman is not so happy to be 40 and takes a look at her life and “wonders whether her mind will ever catch up with her face.” Druckerman notes that at 40, waiters start calling her “Madame,” and she senses a disturbing new message in the way men look at her. Today, the age forty isn’t what it used to be; it is no longer middle age. But Pamela Druckerman notices that she can understand what is being said between the lines and is even able to become involved in healthy relationships. It is quite easy to see that that not all those who reach the age of 40 are adults. I must say that reaching forty is a milestone but it is certainly no longer the milestone it was once. This brings us to the question of exactly what is a grown up today? Druckerman in her memoir cum investigation of life has decided that there are

“no Grown-Ups diagnoses the in-between decade when… 

  • Everyone you meet looks a little bit familiar. 
  • You’re matter-of-fact about chin hair. 
  • You can no longer wear anything ironically. 
  • There’s at least one sport your doctor forbids you to play. 
  • You become impatient while scrolling down to your year of birth. 
  • Your parents have stopped trying to change you. 
  • You don’t want to be with the cool people anymore; you want to be with your people. 
  • You realize that everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently. 
  • You know that it’s ok if you don’t like jazz.”

I think she needs to add one more condition and that is when you are able to laugh at yourself.

Druckerman takes us along on her journey as she searches for wisdom, self-knowledge and an outfit that fits. We might call this a midlife coming of age story and a guide for those who are trying to find their places in the world.

Druckerman is very witty and she uses that wit well to look at the issues we face as we age. She shares what coming-of-age really means as we face the world.

Even though I passed my 40s years ago, I am able to identify with so much of what is here and I marvel at the truth with which Druckerman writes. Likewise, I understand that “forty is the old age of youth and fifty is the youth of old age”. Druckerman looks at the decade in between. meanders the purgatory of what’s in between” and she is not only observant but also self-deprecating. She actually looks at life by

 “the gains and pains of a time in life when you become who you are” and then offers us a meditation on what being a grown-up’ really means. 
Druckerman’s experiences are not so different than those of others but she dares to write them down and then share them. The lessons she has learned can also help others and I am quite sure that the reason that we laugh along with her is because there is truth to what she has to say.

While this might seem to be a book for women, to not be misled and I say that as a man. The problems and issues are no different for us although they may affect us differently.

The one thing I did not care for in the book is how conscious Druckerman is of the way she and others look. I had hoped that the day would come when we could move away from that. We say that there is more to a person than their appearance but how many people actually practice this?

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