Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning doesn't lend itself to the popular "if you liked..." formula for recommending books. Claire Dederer (Poser) defies comparison as she explores her sexuality, femininity, life as a writer and coming of age in a Seattle that has continually grown and transformed over the decades.

Loosely based on her journals, chapters are dated but not chronological. Their 23 titles are often comical; Dederer's wit is irrepressible. "A Is for Acid: An Oberlin Abecedarium," for instance, about her college years. Or "How to Have Sex with Your Husband of 15 Years": A bed is required. Demur if your husband suggests the floor or the couch. Family spaces are "marked by the product of sex: children." 

Dederer reflects from the vantage point of midlife, as a wife, mother of two and successful author, asking how the wild girl she was became the well-mannered woman she is now. In 1980, at age 13, she had been eager to impress an older guy, "kitted out with the signifiers of cool--filthy clothes, long hair, laconic speech, all the stuff I knew to be aces, all the stuff I myself aspired to." Dederer hilariously and poignantly analyzes her "near-rabbit levels of sexual activity" during adolescence to understand better the desires resurfacing in her 40s.

Love and Trouble explores the challenges of growing up female, and will no doubt speak to readers of any age, about feminism and objectifying girls, as well as friendship, family and devotion. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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