Between a Rock and a Hot Place
Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty
By Tracey Jackson
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061669279, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
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A funny, fearless, no-holds-barred look at aginghormone replacement therapy, online dating, eye lifts, and all
As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombardedat the gym, at parties, in conversations with friendsby a catchphrase on everyone's lips. "Fifty is the new thirty" and the endless magazine articles, photos, and T-shirts proclaiming the new aphorism had apparently bloomed out of a collective sense of denial, masking the true fears of a generation unwilling to relinquish their youth.
With a comedy writer's training and a screenwriter's eye for detail, Jackson skewers the myth in Between a Rock and a Hot Place, a hilarious, bare-knuckled, and ultimately practical appraisal of what middle age really means today. Willing not only to face the elephant in the room, but to put him under a (large) microscope, Jackson confronts the truth about death, work, and sex in what the French call the "third age," using poignant, laugh-out-loud stories from her life. Jackson examines the changing roles of motherhood and wifehood; the necessity of planning a "career after your career"; the unvarnished reality of our aging bodies; and the generational shift in our perception of age ("Tight abs was not a phrase my grandmother had ever heard. And even if she had, her response would likely have been, Who needs that when you have a girdle?").
Turning fifty is a wake-up callbut one that can be greeted with a plan. Recounting the changes she went through, the things she learned (and things she didn't) en route to fifty, Between a Rock and a Hot Place navigates, with unsparing honesty and unerring wit, the confusion and uncertainty of the most significant uncharted transition in our lives.
A screenwriter for seventeen years, Tracey Jackson has written and sold films to all the major studios. Her most recent writing credits include Confessions of a Shopaholic and Lucky Ducks, a feature-length documentary that she also produced and directed. Jackson blogs on her own website and for the Huffington Post. Between a Rock and a Hot Place is her first book. She lives in New York City with her husband, Glenn Horowitz, and two daughters. You can follow her on Twitter @ TraceyJackson4.
- In the opening chapter of Between a Rock and a Hot Place, Tracey looks back in time to try and figure out how “fifty” has changed over the years. How did we even get to a place where one can actually assert that, “fifty is the new thirty”?Tracey uses her grandmother and her mother as examples of how fifty has changed over the last few decades. When you look back in your own life, how were your grandmother, aunts and mother different at fifty or sixty than you are today? What changes do you see in older women today compared to those of yesteryear? Do you think we’re better off, or worse? Are we trying too hard, like Tracey’s mother, or was it better to buy a big girdle and eat some more cake like Tracey’s grandmother?
“Jackson covers it all . . . with humor and a firm hand. . . . The book is nothing less than what my own grandmother used to call a ‘godsend.’”
-Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
“A fiercely funny book about a most unfunny subject-aging.”
“Glib, gossipy, and genuinely gutsy, Jackson’s take on this middle-aged milestone will have any woman who is 50, approaching 50, or waving bye-bye in the rear-view mirror wondering, ‘Who is this woman and how did she get inside my head?’”
“The cure for fear is laughter, and this book offers a powerful antidote to all the scary aspects of aging. Jackson’s stunning candor and sparkling high spirits will have women of all ages laughing as they confront everything from menopause to wrinkles, thanks to this funny, practical and engaging book.”
“Tracey Jackson confronts the speed bumps of life with wit, brilliant insights, and the kind of common sense that leaves you wondering, ‘Now, why didn’t I think of that?’ Between a Rock and a Hot Place is more than a good read, it’s good company.”
“Finally, there is a voice of reality to counter the claims of a youth-oriented culture and put forward the idea that successful aging isn’t about denying reality…. Jackson writes with the humor of Nora Ephron, the honesty of a fiftysomething, and the reality of medical science.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“Between a Rock and a Hot Place is sexy, witty, energizing, smart, and full of terrific advice…. Run, do not walk, to get the book, and then call your nutritionist, your GYN, your health club, your nearest Whole Foods, your mothers and daughters, and tell them all about it.”