Journalist and author
Author and Founder of the Bold Voice Collaborative
Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis
Ada Calhoun’s instant New York Times bestseller Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis was one of the most anticipated books of the year for Vogue, the New York Times, Parade, O Magazine, Real Simple, and Book Riot, and is now out in paperback. A timely exploration of the new midlife crisis facing Gen X women, Why We Can’t Sleep resonated with women across America and ignited conversations among friends, family, and coworkers that confirmed that it wasn’t just them: many middle-class women across America were feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and at odds with what they’d been told all their lives—that they could “have it all.”
Ms. Calhoun spoke with women across America and looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take “me-time,” or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order. In Why We Can’t Sleep, Ms. Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss—and keep the next generation of women from falling in.
Since the hardcover edition came out in January 2020, the world has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the paperback edition, Ms. Calhoun has updated her introduction to reflect the current state of America. In the new material, she celebrates the community of women brought together by this book and addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a unique effect on Gen X women: some women saw the pandemic as “an inevitable next chapter” and that the other shoe had finally dropped; others felt as though their enormous daily stressors had oddly prepared them for this moment; and yet others saw this as an opportunity to start fresh and redefine what “having it all” looks like for American women. The paperback also includes a Q&A with Ms. Calhoun and discussion questions for readers, so that Gen X women can continue to use this book as a way to build a community to support one another.
Ms. Calhoun is the author of the memoir Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give and the history St. Marks Is Dead. She has collaborated on several New York Times bestsellers, and written for the New York Times, New York, and The New Republic.
Ms. Calhoun will be interviewed by Deborah Siegel-Acevedo, Ph.D., adjunct faculty member in the College of Communication at DePaul University and a visiting scholar in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University. Prof. Siegel-Acevedo is the author Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, co-editor of Only Child, a TEDx speaker, and founder of the new online course collective, Bold Voice Collaborative.
This event suitable for youth 12+.
BONUS AFTER-HOURS EVENT: Attendees who purchase a copy of Why We Can’t Sleep from FAN’s partner bookseller The Book Stall are invited to attend an AFTER-HOURS event hosted by Ms. Calhoun and Prof. Siegel-Acevedo that will start immediately after the webinar. Details on the webinar registration page.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED for all FAN events. This event will be recorded and available later on our website and YouTube channel.