“How Did This Happen?” by: Mary D. Esselman & Elizabeth Ash Velez

With the subtitle of: “Poems for the Not So Young Anymore” I knew I wanted to review this as I hit my thirtieth birthday last monthish and figured I could relate a bit more to this.

 Although, once I began reading it I realized this is age demographic-wise aimed at forty and up readers.

 Anyways, I liked that Amy Poehler was quoted here and other female comedians and that male voices were heard from as well.

 I can relate to this as a thirty-year-old more than some may think as I (genetically predisposed to) have a nice streak of gray hair and have since I was in my late teens. (I also proudly show it off and am happy about said fact.)

 I am “one of those people” the beginning of the books warn about in that I happily welcome age. I have always found our youth-obsessed culture to be, frankly speaking, stupid. Wisdom comes with age and experience. To not grow old is to, by definition, to die. No, I would rather be alive with my crows feet and laugh lines, thank-you.

 The poems were very candid and while maybe not how myself would have worded things, they felt honest and real. The drawbacks are there. The pain. The lack of sleep. The sweating. We are all human and I liked that a light was cast on our real human-ness.

 Overall, I enjoyed this read, along with the commentary included at the beginning of the chapters. It reminded me of the stages of grief honestly. I think that was intentional. To age graceful should be the goal because not to age at all is a worse alternative.

 I definitely related to the odd body issues that come and go in terms of aches and pains but I had always chalked that up simply to being human in general.

 This is a humorous, yet artistic look at what it means to age and the feelings that go along with it that don’t ever seem to be discussed.

 I also liked that many of the poems included were “found poems” which this idea and concept is explained in detail at the end. The idea is beautiful.

I would recommend this to any woman, regardless of her age.

Book Notes:

18.0% “Espaliered: a fruit tree or shrub whose branches are trained to grow flat against a wall.”

51.0% “”The problem, unstated till now, is how to live in a damaged body In a world where pain is meant to be gagged Uncured un-grieved-over…” -Adrienne Rich. This resonated…”

52.0% “”…this ominous sense of mortality, these symptoms and signs that ‘have no explanation.'” Yup…always just part of what I have referred to as simply “being human”

90%  “…to help us through the heartbreak of being alive.” <—-So eloquently worded.

Quick Facts:

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 256

Format: Hardcover

                 Publication Date: April 4th, 2017

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

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