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DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail Sheehy

“’ The Change’ was not a curse that turned older women into victims; it was a freedom that allowed older women to stop trying so hard to please.” (p365)

“His study (Erik Erikson) found that men only moved on to the next period of development when they began working at a new task and built a new structure for their lives.” (p. 213)

In the 1970’s millions of readers celebrated Gail Sheehy’s amazing book PASSAGES.  She shared with us that adults keep growing, changing and developing and were not fixed beings unable to change.   Sheehy was a journalist and reporter, who did her homework and made her living writing primarily for magazines; she developed quite amazing ideas centered on questions that people were asking themselves as they worked through their lives.  As a single mother, with her own life challenges, Sheehy had a knack for discovering the important questions of the time.   DARING MY PASSAGES the author shares with us her wisdom and hindsight of how she experienced those passages and her own developments and changes.

Sheehy is the author of one of Oprah’s favorite quotes:  “You can have it all, just not at the same time.”

The book begins with Sheehy’s interesting childhood and her gutsy moves when swimming or taking the train by her very, young self into New York City from a sleepy town north.  Dad was driven but not happy and mom was becoming an alcoholic to cope.  Her mother had extremely limited options and Gail could see the problems clearly.  This set the stage for a driven perfectionism.  She always did her homework and more research than what was needed, questioning and writing, and she created a new form of journalistic interviewing techniques formed by these characteristics.

Sheehy married a medical student, Albert Sheehy, who was the father of her daughter, after putting her husband through school the marriage, was broken and she took on the role of single mom and breadwinner in a daring move. She had gotten a job with J.C.Penney and was helping Penney develop his human resources and build character and wholeness in his employees.  From there she began writing for the Herald Tribune and New York Magazine.  Her peers read like a who’s-who of journalistic name dropping: Eugenia Sheppard, Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Betty Friedan,  Phil Spector, Ken Kesey, Andy Warhol, Saul Bellows, Gloria Steinem, Clay Felker, Dick Frost; the stories she shares about competition and bonding over all the questions young women were exploring in the 50s and 60s to the adult contemporary concerns were exciting to revisit.

I could not put this fascinating book down, it was important to me to revisit that experience and those heady times.

Oh, and the folks that she interviewed and wrote articles about are fascinating, well worth the read for the backstories.  Sheehy shares a great deal of gratitude to everyone in her life and from whom she learned so much.  I have read all of her books over the years and have gained from her perspective and voice.  I think this is a valuable read and a good perspective to take into our future.

From the Book Jacket:  “Fascinating and no-holds-barred, DARING MY PASSAGES is a testament to guts, resilience, and smarts, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.”

“GAIL SHEEHY is the author of sixteen books, including the classic New York Times bestseller PASSAGES, named one the of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress.  A multiple-award-winning literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to NEW YORK magazine and has been contributing editor to VANITY FAIR since 1984. A popular lecturer, Sheehy was named AARP’s ambassador of Caregiving in 2009.  She lives in NYC.”

Twitter @Gail_Sheehy.#DoYouDare
tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours   sent me a finished hardbound copy of this book to review and William Morrow publishing is offering a free copy for a great comment by October 10,2014 USA/Canada.

DARING MY PASSAGES is well worth the read and a comment.

Did you like Passages?  Do You like Memoir?   Did you lives through all these passages?

The Signature of All Things
Daring Greatly
When Women Were Birds

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4 Responses to “DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail Sheehy”

  1. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia — Coming from you, “I could not put this fascinating book down,” is recommendation enough. That the author shares some more-than-interesting backstories is icing on the cake!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Give and TakeMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    I enjoyed this read very much – though I am not a great fan of Passages, she certainly opens a lot of windows, and knows fascinating questions to ask to make information pop and sell
    Patricia recently posted..DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail SheehyMy Profile

  2. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I have never read PASSAGES, and in fact hadn’t heard of Gail until this tour. Clearly I’ve been missing out on an amazing woman.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    Patricia Reply:


    Passages was a best seller but I didn’t really think it was the best book – I liked William Bridges work called TRANSITIONS much better but readers loved the pop-psychology approach to adult development better – her book was fun reading.

    Sheehy is a good writer and gets read so I think that is her best endeavor is bringing things to light that others may ignore.

    I actually met her, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan for Rev. Letty Russell’s book release when I was in NY

    It is a good read as we study how magazines, newspapers, and books are changing in the new millenium
    Patricia recently posted..THE UNFORGIVEABLE FIX: A Justice Novel, Book #3 ~T. E. WoodsMy Profile