Why We Can’t Sleep

Is it time to retire the idea of "having it all"?

Why we can’t sleep : women’s new midlife crisis

Calhoun, Ada. Grove Press, 2020
288p bibl, 9780802147851 $26.00, 9780802147868

Countless articles and books have been written about the Baby Boomer and Millennial cohorts, but Generation X, the small cohort of now-midlife adults born between 1965 and 1980, has generated far less ink. In this meticulously researched and vividly written book, Calhoun digs deep into the inner lives of Gen X women, exploring why today’s midlife women, raised with unbounded hopes fueled by the feminist movement, are so exhausted and disappointed. Weaving together insightful interviews with Gen X women, observations from popular culture, and rigorous empirical studies, Calhoun offers insights into women’s worries about finances, work-family balance, caregiving, health, and menopause and aging—concerns that cannot be adequately addressed by quick-fix and shallow recommendations like life hacks and “me time.” Calhoun rightfully argues that solutions require structural, political, and economic changes. Most important, a new cultural narrative is needed, one that quashes the myth of “having it all” and “doing it all” and instead involves adapting expectations to realities facing women today. Why We Can’t Sleep is required reading for all women who fear that they are not doing enough and for the friends, family, and colleagues who rely on them.

Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
D. S. Carr, Boston University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Sociology
Choice Issue: Oct 2020