Pick of the Week: The Madwoman in the Volvo by Sandra Tsing Loh
This book is hilarious, unnerving, irreverent, honest, and did I mention hilarious? An essayist for The Atlantic magazine and an NPR radio commentator, Tsing Loh has never shied away from addressing very personal stuff, and this book is no exception. She chronicles her experiences going through perimenopause, as her life seems to go up in flames. She has an affair, which destroys her 20-year marriage; she’s raising two preteen daughters; she’s trying to manage the affairs of her highly eccentric 89-year-old father – all while her hormones are raging uncontrollably. Tsing Loh obsesses about her weight, which seems to be increasing no matter how hard she exercises. She creates a “happiness project” for herself. She takes on a 12-year-old bully at her daughter’s school. It’s like any middle-aged mother’s life – only more interesting and way funnier.
Pretty much any woman older than 40 will relate to this book. Its chapters flow just like perimenopausal mood swings: one minute you’re up, the next you’re down. Some of the book is downright silly (her list of diet foods), some is touching (a sweet note from her 11-year-old daughter), and some is educational. Tsing Loh has thoroughly read the literature on menopause and has distilled it down to a couple of useful books and theories, and the tips she shares are realistic and doable. In fact, the book ends on a downright hopeful note. So while I’m a little scared of menopause after reading this book (I’m sure I’ll go off the deep end too), I also know that if Tsing Loh can survive it, I can too.
For more about Sandra Tsing Loh, here’s a great NY Times article from May 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/fashion/for-sandra-tsing-loh-change-is-good.html?_r=0