Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review - Between a Rock and a Hot Place

Between a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson
Harper, 2011
Why? This is my first review for TLC Book Tours and because this book sounded just like me :)
What Now?  I'll keep this one handy for the next 7 or so years...a chapter or two whenever I'm feeling down about getting older should do just fine :)

Golden Lines

***I marked so much of this many golden lines to revisit again and again...but the one I chose here, I think, is a perfect example of Jackson's writing style and her humor in dealing with touchy areas :)

Here is the thing about these militant stands on certain, shall we say, aids or helpers: it's very easy to say, "I won't touch a hormone" until you find yourself in the corner sobbing for no reason, sweating profusely, unable to sleep, have sex, or even get through a conversation.  I was one of the women who was not going to get an epidural when I had my kids, I was going to have my children naturally - a position that lasted for about two contractions, at which point I would have swallowed botulism toxin if they'd told me it would alleviate the pain.  I love the women who say, "I want to experience the glory of the pain of childbirth."  I say, "No you don't - there is not glory in the pain of a nine-pound human being ripping through your insides and shooting out of your vagina."  There is glory in the pain of the lyrics to a Leonard Cohen song, but not in giving birth; giving birth is messy, painful, and miraculous especially if you get through it without drugs.  In my next life I think I will start the epidural when the pregnancy test comes back positive.


Tracey Jackson takes a look at the whole idea of aging from a woman's viewpoint.  She particularly takes to task the notion that for women today, turning 50 is really the new 30.  Not so, says Jackson...and if we don't look at aging realistically, we're just deluding ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Growing old gracefully, however, does not necessarily involve sitting by and watching ourselves decay.  Today's woman has a whole host of opportunities toward making herself look and feel younger.  It's a conscious choice each woman makes, and Jackson encourages all women to pay attention to her body, self-image, outer appearance, financial matters, and her relationships in order to enjoy the 2nd half of their lives.

What I Liked

Humor - This book is funny.  And, I don't mean just funny.  Jackson is laugh out loud while you're reading till other people ask you what in the world is so funny.  I read portion after portion of this book out loud to my co-workers both male and female...and they laughed out loud right with me.  

The chapter on sex.  I don't talk about sex with my gets mentioned from time to time but as far as specifics, my husband is the only one who has that conversation with me.  But, there are things about a woman's life...changes taking place...that men don't know about and logically cannot be expected to understand.  Let's be honest, ladies.  They'd probably really rather not know about all our ins, outs and all abouts...unless, of course, it involves them.  ;)  
Jackson handles the subject of sex with startling (at times) clarity...there were times that I know my face turned red...I giggled a time or two and was asked, "What's so funny?"  Then, I blushed more bc if the person asking only knew what I was really laughing about...
But, it's a chapter that needs to be written...and read.  So many of us don't have that conversation...we all suffer the same symptoms but since no one wants to talk about it, we all think we're the only ones.  Thanks, Tracey Jackson for opening up this conversation!

Tidbits of history - through her mother and grandmother, Jackson presents the history of nutrition, sunscreen, exercise, and facelifts in an entertaining way...through narrative tidbits about 2 previous generations of her own family and her intimate knowledge following their experiences...and Jackson equally considers the pros and cons of both the grandmother who was content to "let herself go" and the mother constantly fought to stay ahead of the aging process...even flying to Transylvania for some state of the art treatment.

Menopause or Menostop - besides the chapter on sex, this one is the chapter than really convinced me I'm not crazy.  I've experienced some of the early symptoms in the last year or so, but it honestly seems like I woke up one day and lost my mind completely.  Jackson describes the estrogen in a woman's body as a "chardonnay drip that allowed you to keep it together."  
Oh. My. Goodness.
A woman can literally wake up one day and find that Mother Nature has removed the drip in her sleep...and woe to those who get in her way...and/or to the dishwasher that breaks and won't get itself fixed :p

HRT/Bio-identicals - I think at this point we are all scared to death of hormones thanks to all the media drama.  Jackson presents a realistic look at both possible solutions to keeping the estrogen flowing...again, very effectively through her own mother, grandmother and her own experiences with both.  Jackson doesn't lean one way or the other and constantly encourages women to make the best choice for themselves weighing all the realistic odds.  At this point in my life I'm not interested in the synthetic meds, but am going to be scouting out some of the more natural hormone therapy solutions.

The Biggest Pink Slip - "A mother never clocks out"  
"Nobody and nothing prepares a mother for what it is like when her children eventually leave home"
I think you can only understand this chapter if you've been through this stage in your life.  As a mostly non-weepy person, I stunned myself by becoming weepy when my firstborn graduated from high school and then began packing to move into the dorm...on the campus where I work :/
I still have the big move ahead of me...when she actually moves out of the town in which we live...and the middle daughter will be right behind her...but I think I'm a little more prepared for the partially empty nest than I was this time last year.  
Jackson was her most sentimental in this only a mother can be :)

What I Didn't Like

***For this particular book the things I "didn't like" are simply things I liked less, not really a dislike.

The chapter on men.  This chapter is for those who find themselves alone (by choice or not) at 50.  I'm not alone although I realize that realistically the possibility is one that must be considered given that anything can happen to anybody.  The experiment with was fascinating though and kudos to Jackson's husband Glenn for being secure enough with himself and their relationship to support his wife's research...even if that research includes her pretending to be single and looking for love online.

The chapter on money.  If you know me at all, you know I am not a money manager.  I've done better this past year than ever...and I am still learning.  But, I still wish there was enough money not to have to worry about it.  I appreciated Jackson's honesty...she's not a money manager either...and has a fancy for shoes and expensive coffee :)  But, besides the obvious, Jackson talks about how difficult it is to manage money with children...

...if you have kids you know that they truly are ATM's in sneakers.  They are constantly pushing your "withdraw cash" button.

THANK YOU, Tracey Jackson.  Yes, I have a hard time managing my money...and yes, the answer is very simple: Spend less than you make and Save...BUT that very simple concept is difficult for even those of us who are not out blowing our nest egg on fancy shoes or diamonds...or any other "luxury" items.  Kids are hell on the budget.  Can I get an Amen?

Overall Recommendation

Women over 40 and/or those who have just begun to experience some of the symptoms of peri-menopause will hoot through this book just as I did...and finish it up feeling much better about themselves. 
We are soooo not crazy!

***I received a copy of Between a Rock and Hard Place free of charge in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Other stops on the tour: 
Tuesday, February 21st: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, February 22nd: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, February 23rd: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 27th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Thursday, March 1st: For Such a Time as This
Tuesday, March 6th: Boarding in my Forties
Wednesday, March 7th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, March 8th: My Book Retreat
Monday, March 12th: I Read. Do you?
Tuesday, March 13th: Silver & Grace


  1. Sounds like a book I would get a lot out of, I am in my 40's and would love to get some good ideas for growing older gracefully.  Great review!

  2. Anne, I think you would love this book!! I'm so glad to have women like Tracey Jackson writing and talking about some of the more difficult topics that we all really need to talk about...maybe not today or even tomorrow...but eventually we'll want to talk about them...and wouldn't that conversation be so much more if we're prepared for it :)

  3. Sound like a book that is rather entertaining.  I'll be checking it out soon.  Thanks for the review!

  4. OMG, I was laughing out loud at your review! I turn 40 next friday and oh my am I dreading this birthday. This is definitely a book I need - a copy for me, for my mom, for all my female friends....and oh what a hoot - kids are ATM machines with sneakers! And the part about getting an epidural when the pregnancy test comes back positive...I'll amen that one too! Love this review! Thanks for the laughs and the suggestion!

  5. Stacy, if you laughed at my review, you will LOVE the book!

  6. No doubt "entertaining"...I flew through this one bc I just couldn't stop.  It was so much fun!

  7. bermudaonion (Kathy)February 25, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    I need to read this since I'm right smack dab in the middle of menopause.

  8. Kathy, I think you'd like puts the whole process into perspective in an informative, open way but also funny at the same time :)

  9. I'm so glad your first TLC Book Tour book was such a hit with you! Sounds like Jackson touched on a LOT of great info in there.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.