Still Going Strong: Memoirs, Stories, and Poems About Great Older Women: Book Review

Posted by: Debbie McCarthy

Still Going Strong: Memoirs, Stories, and Poems About Great Older Women
ISBN: 978-0789028709
By: Janet Amalia Weinberg
How many ads have you seen today that offered to reverse your aging process?

Of course, it is the place of marketers to convince us we need what they’re selling, but must self-esteem bashing be such an integral part of the package? Sometimes it seems like the best older women can hope for is the off-handed compliment, She looks good . . . for her age.

By negating the validity of the voice of experience, the general public misses out on hearing what their mothers, sisters, neighbors and aunts lives are really like. They miss out on hearing that a woman’s life does not end after age 21, just that the lives they lead may not fit into any preconceived notions about what it means to be an older woman.

Still Going Strong: Memoirs, Stories, and Poems about Great Older Women provides a glimpse into the lives of older women. In sourcing from many authors, the reader gets a sense of the many possibilities that present themselves at old age. Beyond that, the question of why these possibilities are exclusive to old age is raised in the reader’s mind. Why is it that older women find themselves so unburdened, and what can be done to ease that burden earlier on?

The format of the collection lends itself to this overall concept of alternative ways of embodying old age. The book is divided into three main themes: Strengths, Challenges, and Joys. Each story is engaging, and short enough to be read without too much fear of interruption. For interruptions there will always be, in the words of Virginia Woolf.

As a whole, the collection is strong in that the reader can find many lives represented. These lives offer the reader access as a ray of sunshine into what are often presented as the sunset years. Even lifes challenges are presented with a veracity that leads the reader to understand that sometimes the most difficult challenges provide opportunity for growth, and this growth doesnt stop once a woman reaches a certain age. But overall, this sense of positivity and freedom is a high note of the collection:

With the freedom and fearlessness that come at our stage of life, we greet our lives with gusto, opening ourselves to new experiences at each chance we get. …For me, living in the now has been a lovely by-product of growing old. I used to live my life looking forward: when I grow up, when I have the leisure to really write, when the mortgage is paid off… I focused on an elusive afterward that promised something better, neglecting valued relationships and missing precious moments.

(The Growing Season by Nell Coburn Medcalfe).

What does it mean to live in the now, to embrace each moment without living in the past or the future? This is a message that anyone can understand, and Still Going Strong: Memoirs, Stories, and Poems about Great Older Women conveys this message beautifully.

Author’s Note: This post originally appeared on the now-defunct site,

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