A Look at Suzanne Braun Levine’s How We Love Now: Sex And The New Intimacy in Second Adulthood

By Angie Engles

In the grand scheme of things, it may not seem like something on the level of achieving world peace, but somehow I still long for a Hollywood, for a mainstream media, that embraces the older woman and understands she still has lots to offer both herself and the world. Sure, we have the incomparable Jessica Lange, Maggie Smith and Meryl Streep, but they are the exceptions rather than rule, and we live in a world that often fails to remember women do not and should not become invisible as soon as menopause kicks in. We need a world-wise mentality that recognizes women remain vital long after their child-bearing years. After all, men are not held under obscenely absurd standards of beauty and sexuality, why should women be?

How We Love Now is the groundbreaking, sometimes humorous, often touching, occasionally shocking look at Suzanne Levine’s conversation with women in Second Adulthood, the stage of life she has skillfully handled in two popular books: Inventing the Rest of Our Lives and Fifty Is the New Fifty. As she explores the changes and opportunities for women in midlife, Levine’s research and distinctive voice give reassurance to the newly fifty and confirmation to those already in the know that the golden years can be some of our best ever.

But Levine doesn’t just have a lot to say, she says it very well. Nowhere does the author get patronizing or coddling. Instead she lays all her cards on the table, from frank discussions of reawakened sexuality to the discovery that starting life over after a marriage ends can be scary, but also the beginning of something new and even amazing.

Whether she’s covering such critical issues as self-esteem, sex or retirement, Levine keeps everything fresh. It’s an exciting read for any women. Older women may begin to ask themselves, “Am I enjoying this?” “Do I dare?” Levine is here to tell women that everything they question and yearn to explore is perfectly valid and worth looking into further.

“The body gets older but the basic emotion, the need to be in love, remains the same.” Levine spoke with a lot of 50-plus women on issues related to love and sexuality, and one of my favorite anecdotes is about a woman who shyly confides she has just fallen in for the first time at the age of 60. I love this not just because it suggests we should never give up hope on love (though maybe not place ALL our hope on finding it), but because love can happen at any age and sometimes the older we are when it happens, the more we appreciate it.

How We Love Now is one of the most promising and upbeat books I’ve read in a while. Anyone (man or woman) interested in a second chance at adulthood and all the wonderful things that can go with it, this book is for you!

Helpful resources for further information:
Amazing Women Rock
Feisty Side of Fifty
Foundation for Women’s Wellness
More magazine
National Council for Research on Women
National Women’s Health Network
Society for Women’s Health Research
The Transition Network
Women’s Health Initiative

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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1 Comment

  1. Great book review! I’ve added it to my list to read!

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