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Why We Can't Sleep

Women's New Midlife Crisis
Narrated by: Ada Calhoun
Length: 5 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Gender Issues
4.5 out of 5 stars (173 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A generation-defining examination of the new midlife crisis facing Gen X women and the unique circumstances that have brought them to this point, Why We Can’t Sleep is a lively successor to Passages by Gail Sheehy and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay.  

When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too?  

Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked.   

Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation expected to “have it all”, Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of their issues being heard, they were told to lean in, take “me time”, or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.  

In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss - and keep the next generation from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential listening for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Ada Calhoun (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

Editor's Pick

Here we are now, validate us
"Being "seen" is a decidedly Gen Z and millennial aspiration, but even us aging Gen-Xers—famously misanthropic, pessimistic, and nonconformist—have a primal need for acknowledgement. As a 45-year-old mother of two, child of divorced parents (one of whom is of failing health), I felt 100% #seen by Ada Calhoun’s glorious paean to the plight of the modern middle-aged woman. Informed by her extremely viral article for O magazine ("The New Midlife Crisis"), Why We Can’t Sleep is sensitively reported, exhaustively researched, and full of so-funny-because-it’s-so-painfully-true moments. If you feel the full weight of the mental load of parenting up, down, and sideways, I promise you’ll feel validated by Calhoun’s message." —Courtney R., Audible Editor

What members say

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Answers every question about why my life is this way

I loved this book so much it’s hard to put into words. It talks about all the struggles women face in middle age through the lens of Gen X: I.e. our parents drove us around without seatbelts and left us in the car to run errands but now we must supervise every minute of our kids’ lives, on top of working, caring for aging parents, etc. It covers everything: feeling unaccomplished in midlife, motherhood, infertility, marriage, divorce, money, sex, peri menopause, body image, why women our age are particularly addicted to social media. It always brakes before things get depressing and ends on a hopeful note. I think every Gen Xer should read it- even men

45 of 46 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic! Enjoyed every minute of it.

Yes, even though this might be a bleak, dismal portrayal of Gen X women, it's as real as it gets. Nearly every single line struck a chord with me. Born in 1974, I was the oldest of six, raised in a very middle class blue-collar family in the suburb of a Midwestern metropolis. After the recession of the early 80s, my mother went to work full-time to supplement my father's cut hours at his factory job, and remained working until I graduated high school. That meant as early as 8 years old, much of my free time outside of school was spent "babysitting." No one thought anything of six kids staying home by themselves on a snow day or during the summer while both parents were at work. In all my elementary school years, the only time I remember parents getting involved in school were the few privileged kids whose moms sent cupcakes for the class on their child's birthday. Even parent/teacher conferences were only once a year. My teachers didn't have a clue what parents' names were. We didn't have help with homework, and were expected to get good grades based on our own efforts. I don't recall a single parent of my friends belonging to PTA or being involved in school activities. I do remember, though, walking with my 11-year old friends up to the A&P so they could buy their mother cigarettes, which only required the $1.50 cash and a note from their moms to the store clerk giving permission for the 5th graders to buy smokes for them.

My husband often tells tales of what childhood was like when he was ten years old. Armed with nothing but a few Fruit Roll-Ups and some Juicy Fruit, he and his friends would ride their bikes for several miles to the lake and play in the woods along the shoreline, often going out fishing and swimming and playing imaginative games until the sun went down. Nowadays, I don't see kids even having the freedom to walk home from school, let alone play like that. As an adult, I decided I just didn't want to have kids of my own. This decision is reinforced every single year when I witness social media posts about annual Halloween "trunk or treat" events in a church or school parking lot at 2:00pm. Apparently, gone are the days when you can just send your children out into the neighborhood all dressed up in $10 plastic costumes, free to roam the streets after dark with their friends to scope out the best candy--some of my favorite memories of childhood.

Between technology, devices, school and social pressures, and my own pressures for career and financial stability, I just didn't think it was worth it to have children. Not for me... but for the kid. I mean, it must really suck to be a child of a Gen X'er, I often think. It has to be the hardest part of being a Millennial. Gen X'ers are seriously messed up. Anyway, as a result of being childless, I have it a lot easier than most women I know. Still, I identified with every other aspect of Gen X stressers in this book. As the author stated, it IS just really nice to know that I'm not alone in my experiences. Brava for a job well done with this one. I'll be recommending to many friends!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic, intelligent, engaging analysis

This book is amazingly poignant! It looks at primarily Gen X against the socio-economic-political background of our (entire) lives and applies these themes to an analysis of their contributions to our current situation and explains SO MUCH!!! I found myself alternating between tears, smiles, relief, and a sense of community sprinkled with “Yes!”, “Exactly”, “Hadn’t thought of that”, and “That makes so much sense!”

I think it was recommended in the synopsis to be ‘good for GenX women and those around them.’ Oh boy! Is it ever!!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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If your questioning if you should have had kids

I was hoping this would have been a bit more well rounded, but it was very focused on the mother/ mommy role.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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It was like she knew me.

I told five friends about this book. I bought it for one and the others bought it for themselves. We all love it.

I am listening to it for the second time.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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(Almost) A Gen X

I am what you call a "Cusper", born between '80 and '83. Sometimes I am Gen X and sometimes I am a Millennial; it all depends on who is defining the group. However, I loved this book. I found myself relating to so much, mostly professionally and how to prepare myself for things to come. I highly recommend this book to all women over 35 who are struggling with their lives regardless of a "crisis status" or not.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Validating

Very validating and definitely made me feel less alone in my current state of... 44. I have to say the statistics and research feel bleak but are also reaffirming. It feels kind of like listening to the season 1 recap before heading to season 2. Here is everything that’s happened so far and there were a lot of challenges, let’s see what happens next.
For accuracy the arm of the hormone trial that was stopped was the “progestin” not “progesterone” arm.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Clarity and acceptance....this book impacted me deeply.

Listening to the stories from childhood through adult struggles reminded me of so many of my own stories. I came away comforted that I’m in good company and encouraged for the future! It also motivated me to take tactical steps to improve my life quality. I’m grateful for this author’s research and authenticity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting perspective for Gen X Women

Overall I enjoyed this Perspective of living as a Gen X midlife women. Some interesting data on our behaviors, challenges and strengths

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • 01-10-20

Best book ever!!!

I felt like this book was written just for me!! It was like a history lesson on my childhood and helped me remember things I haven't thought about in years. This book explained why I feel the way I do now in my life and helped me feel like I was in good company and not so alone. A must read for any Generation X woman!!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Pixieface
  • 01-16-20

Great book for Gen X women

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It’s compelling but light enough to digest in one listen. It’s specific to North America but I found most of it applicable to me as a British woman and think it would be interesting for any Gen X-er whatever their gender. It’s insightful and encouraging.