Author: Sarah Brokaw

Publisher: Hyperion – Voice – 270 pages

Book Review by: Laxmi Chaandi

The author – Sarah Brokaw – with a master’s degree in social work fromNew YorkUniversityis a licensed therapist with a practice inBeverly Hills,California, offers women advice on many of the common issues they face. She is the daughter of legendary newsman and author Tom Brokaw.

Some of those issues women face have to do with: being conflicted by the plastic surgery question, changing careers, dating in your 40s,  dealing with the loss of a family member or friend,  finding work-life balance, health concerns, infidelity, infertility, maintaining sexual vitality and reigniting the flame with your spouse.

She answers questions such as why some women feel comfortable turning 40 while others become overwhelmed by the life challenges inherent in entering he fifth  decade.

She explains why do some women celebrate their achievements while others mope on what they have not accomplished what their former classmates have.

As a certified professional coach she helps women typically aged 35 to 55. She has found that the happiest ones are those with five qualities: accomplishment, adventure, connectedness, grace, and spirituality.

The reason why women feel overwhelmed, Sarah Brokaw pints out, is because society expects them to be what I would “superwomen,” being able to be successful in their careers as well as be beautiful and dutiful  wives, moms, and daughters.  These relatives expect them to put their own needs aside and take care of others’ needs first.

With regards to aging,  Brokaw points out that getting into the 40s and beyond does not have to be as scary as they think from a physical standpoint, and from a self-fulfillment perspective, these decades can be some of the most productive in their lives.

Brokaw relates her own personal stories and those of her clients and shows that embracing positive attitudes and discarding negative ones can lead to enjoyment and a

happy life. She shows the futility of dwelling  on what their friends have and what they do not, instead of focusing on their unique characteristics and how to use those to make others happier.

Sarah Brokaw’s wisdom is reflected in the advice she gives in the form of specific actions women should take to overcome their fears and obstacles – imagined or not.

She points out from different angles the hurdles they face and the decisions women

have to make. Then she suggests how to make the right decisions they will not regret.

Why was this book written? As Sarah Brokaw herself addresses this question herself , it arose from her experiences as a therapist as many clients came to her expressing their fear and anxiety about entering the fifth  decade of their lives, about blowing that “40th” candle on their birthday party. It was a time for celebration, but they had dread in their minds.

She writes in her Preface, Forty Candles” : “As we say good-bye to our youth, we lose our carefree sense of being immortal and having all the time in the world to figure out our lives. Many of us experience fear of the future. This book’s purpose is to help us remove our hands from our eyes and face our fears – and moreover, to transcend them. The truth is that our 40s can be a decade of loss, but those years also hold the potential to be a time of tremendous gain.

In summary it is up to us how we shape our 40s and beyond. Let them be filled with gain.

This is a highly inspiring guide not only for women but for men as well. A well-written book, it is wise advice by an expert with not just academic and technical knowledge but also someone with broad experience helping with issues relating to changes in life.