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New Passages [Paperback]

Gail Sheehy
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 28 1996
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Millions of readers literally defined their lives through Gail Sheehy's landmark bestseller Passages. Seven years ago she set out to write a sequel, but instead she discovered a historic revolution in the adult life cycle. . .
People are taking longer to grow up and much longer to die. A fifty-year-old woman--who remains free of cancer and heart disease-- can expect to see her ninety-second birthday. Men, too, can expect a dramatically lengthened life span. The old demarcations and descriptions of adulthood--beginning at twenty-one and ending at sixty-five--are hopelessly out of date. In New Passages, Gail Sheehy discovers and maps out a completely new frontier--a Second Adulthood in middle life.
"Stop and recalculate," Sheehy writes. "Imagine the day you turn forty-five as the infancy of another life." Instead of declining, men and women who embrace a Second Adulthood are progressing through entirely new passages into lives of deeper meaning, renewed playfulness, and creativity--beyond both male and female menopause. Through hundreds of personal and group interviews, national surveys of professionals and working-class people, and fresh findings extracted from fifty years of U.S. Census reports, Sheehy vividly dramatizes these newly developing stages. Combining the scholar's ability to synthesize data with the novelist's gift for storytelling, she allows us to make sense of our own lives by understanding others like us.
New Passages tells us we have the ability to customize our own life cycle. This groundbreaking work is certain to awaken and permanently alter the way we think about ourselves.
"SHEEHY CLEARLY STATES IDEAS ABOUT LIFE THAT HAVE NEVER BEFORE BEEN AS CLEARLY STATED."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"AN OPTIMISTIC ANALYSIS OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT IN PESSIMISTIC TIMES. . . It is grounded in the economic and psychological realities that make adult life so complex today."
--The New York Times Book Review

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From Library Journal

The author's previous blockbuster, Passages (LJ 5/15/76), introduced us all to the term "midlife crisis." In this sequel, Sheehy takes us beyond the midlife crisis to examine later life stages, with a short update on young adulthood in the 1990s. In a few ways, this is a better book than its predecessor. Sheehy pays closer attention to the influence of history on the life course of individuals. She also addresses the main criticism that social scientists have made of her work?that large-scale studies have shown no evidence that most people go through the life stages that she describes?by explaining that people should go through these "passages" and that everyone who doesn't is "walking dead." These improvements aside, her prose still sounds like that of a second-rate astrologer, her advice is often contradictory, and her adulation of famous personalities verges on embarrassing. Nevertheless, this is a "critic-proof" book?if you haven't already done so, order multiple copies to satisfy reader demand.
-?Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Sheehy's Passages (1976), in which she counseled thirtysomethings about the onset of midlife, went straight to the top of most best-seller lists, and her last book, The Silent Passage (1992), in which she schlepped women through menopause, did almost as well, despite the fact that females had been navigating the change of life for a millennium or so without Sheehy's help. Rapidly running out of passages, Sheehy now takes the obvious next step: edging her loyal readers, now entrenched in midlife, to the precipice and helping them face their mortality. Arguing that middle life is the "most unrevealed portion of adult life" (not once the Boomers dig in), Sheehy is here to tell you that the years from 45 to 65 are "not the stagnant, depressing downward slide we have always assumed they would be." Although she intends this book to be a "gift" to her anxious readers, it mostly fails. Before hearing about middle age's upside, we must wend our way through seemingly endless pages about women losing their spouses, men losing their jobs (to say nothing of their hair), and both men and women contracting enough diseases to make even the hardiest souls hurry in for a checkup. There is some good news. Women who make it to 65 can expect to live to 85, and if they've survived divorce or widowhood in midlife, they come to enjoy their own independence. Still, the overriding sense of this book, whether Sheehy admits it or not, is that everybody gets hit, everybody gets hurt. You don't need passage counseling to know that, and if you don't have the inner strength to endure, you might not even get to enjoy those upbeat nuggets Sheehy has gleaned from her surveys. Expect the usual demand; for whatever reason, this passage gambit sells Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Western culture from antiquity to the present has sought to divide human life into ages and stages. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mapping this book against time Oct. 20 2003
Format:Paperback
Conceptually excellent, but a dismally dreary read.
Ever been at a cocktail party where you meet someone who tells an interesting story, but takes half an hour to do it, because of all the needless peripheral information. Sheehy personified. She fails to hold my attention with tediously drawn-out examples which lack pith and focus. An good editor would halve the length and double the value. The content is not bad, it just takes so damn long to get to the point.
Very Ameri-centric.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Passages Really Helped Aug. 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found Sheehy's second "Passages" book almost as good as the first. As an aging baby boomer, the issues of recharting my life direction at middle age has been daunting to say the least. Second Passages provided the structure for this process. I also suggest "The Second Journey" by T. Athey as another good book - more focus on the issues of the Baby Boomer generation.
Platonix
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4.0 out of 5 stars Our beliefs shape our future.... May 7 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"New Passages" gave me added enthusiasm as well as an explanation for what I, a woman at age 50, am feeling and experiencing. How wonderful that I am metamorphosing into a "second adulthood!" That the last few years of culling out what I don't want to do are leading towards a powerful purpose: living the rest of my life with ever-greater meaning and enjoyment. As with "The Silent Passage," which has given so many men and women a healthier perspective of menopause, "New Passages" has helped define a brighter and more exciting future for all of us who are growing into our 50'and beyond. Even my 86 year old mother understands better where she has been in her "2nd adulthood," enabling her to define the significance of her continuing life....to just live in integrity and serve as an example for all those around her. Sheehy quoted research which shows that our genetic heritage profoundly affects us until 60-65....but, after that, what we think and beleve is what most profoundly affects how well we live. As in golf, "the game" is controlled by the 6" between our ears....
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2.0 out of 5 stars She keeps going and going and going.... Feb. 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gail Sheehy provides a new perspective on aging...yet she repeats the same points continuously throughout the book. You get the main idea of her whole book in the prologue and learn nothing more after. If you are under 40 this will bore and depress you like nothing else.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Book! Jan. 7 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Half way reading this book, and I had to give it a thumbs up already. Sheehy's analysis and narrative is hard hitting and brilliant. Your very life passage is written out in this book. Virtually everyone will identify with at least one of her narratives/passages. A must read for anyone interested in the philosophical aspects of LIFE!
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