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Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,454 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
At last, this is your story. You'll recognize yourself, your friends, and your loves. You'll see how to use each life crisis as an opportunity for creative change -- to grow to your full potential. Gail Sheehy's brilliant road map of adult life shows the inevitable personality and sexual changes we go through in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond. The Trying 20s -- The safety o ...more
Paperback, 564 pages
Published July 1st 1984 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1976)
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Aug 06, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passages by Gail Sheehy is a book that I saw lying around the house a lot when I was a kid. Since I am writing a memoir about my mom, I thought I'd read some of her favorite books. Turns out to be perfect timing. It's about the various phases of life leading up to the mid-life crisis. According to Sheehy, when we are young adults, many of us rush into choosing a role so that we can "get on" with life. This may entail denying parts of ourselves in order to better conform to that role, whether it' ...more
Aug 18, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in the 1970's, and helped me through a couple of difficult passages in my life. I was young then, and I'm not young now (68), but it's just possible that I might pick it up and read it again. It certainly helped me survive a couple of personal crises in my life...
Ryan Murdock
Nov 23, 2013 Ryan Murdock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting read. A bit dated given that attitudes have changed since it was written in the early 70's. But still widely applicable, IMO. At least to my generation. Gave some interesting insights into the 40's decade I've somehow slipped into. And brought back a lot of memories as well. I spent a lot of time looking back at the past as I read, and the major turning points and crisis points of my life fit quite accurately into this pattern. But of course I never realized that at the time.
Jul 09, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
See, this is what happens when you hire a bookish babysitter. I can't begin to explain why, at age 14 I thought I should read this instead of, I dunno, watching TV. Yeah, see I didn't go prying around, I'd just grab a book of the family room shelf.

Let's just assume it was a good idea, that some sort of pop wisdom filtered into my head so that now, in middle age, I'm taking life in stride.
Feb 27, 2008 Maurean rated it it was ok
Shelves: reference
This is an interesting bit of insight into the "predictable crises" of adult life. Divided in sections by life stages (the trying 20's, the catch 30's, the forlorn 40's) Sheehy tries to help us understand the 'developmental rythms" of life, and how to use that knowledge to reach our full potential. I've read bits & pieces, here & there, and am now reading from it again...

Feb. '08:
Part five: "But I'm Unique"; chpt. 16- Women's Life Patterns.
~Late Baby Superachiever (!?); interesting...

Mar 03, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When someone recommended this book to me, I thought that it was just another self-help book, which was full of stereotypes, and pat answers, but to my delight, Sheehy pretty much steered clear of all that. I guess I had never pondered that life is comprised of a series of "losses", which compel us to adapt, and ultimately to grow. I think simply knowing that change will come, is helpful; and this book brings encouragement in facing those inescapable passages of life, where disillusionment can ge ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Larry rated it it was amazing
Middle age provides enough history to see major life events with some perspective. Consideration of the future begins to gain focus.

"Passages" provided a vocabulary and understanding of how we all deal with loss and tragedy. I began to see myself on Sheehy's various steps and reminded me that 1) my feelings were normal and a part of a process and, 2) This too shall pass.

Her book brought rationality to some of the most painful emotions we encounter.

LB 2012
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
A retro pop-psych book that reads like a point of entry into the minds of Betty and Don Draper. The upshot: no matter where you are right now in your identity crisis, unless you are totally inhibited beyond help, ruined by your parents, or poorer than a Westchester socialite, around the age of 50 you will emerge from your crummy chrysalis self-realized, artistic, and jazzed about life.
Nov 13, 2007 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults over 30
Somewhat outdated, especially the women's issues, but still an invaluable tool in self-examination and growth. Covers the predictible pattern of aging and maturing for men and women, yet resists the stereotyping and type-casting of most books of this type.
Mar 10, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
I learned that the course for life is a ongoing, reflecting process and that each of us chooses the path differently. And that is never too late to change one's course. Her examples of specific people and their choices of paths was very helpful.
Paula Dembeck
Jan 05, 2016 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read parts of this book earlier in my life but this time I wanted to read it all the way through.

Sheey presents a new understanding of the predictable crisis of adult life, much like the book Erickson had written before on life's early years. The road map shows the inevitable personality and sexual changes we go through in our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.

In the trying twenties, we leave the safety of home behind and try on not only the uniforms of life but also possible partners, searching f
Oct 24, 2013 Serena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humanity
This book belongs on my human interests shelf as one of the many fascinating books I've read regarding people and their emotional selves.

The criticisms I have about the book are few, but they're still criticisms. There were way, way too many (arguably cheesy) metaphors in the author's prose that really took away from what is probably very extensively researched subject matter; it was distracting and took away some of the credibility. I also read a 30th anniversary version that did not revise any
Jennifer Hughes
I remember seeing this around my house in the '70s, so when I found it on my (recently deceased) mom's bookshelf, I thought I'd read it and maybe get some insight into her at that age. I didn't really find what I was looking for, except for one thing: lots of highlighting up to page 60, then it stops. Yeah, Mom, that's about where I lost interest too.

Gail Sheehy is a journalist, not a trained psychologist, so while she may have some interesting observations on psychology, it seemed that she spen
Feb 01, 2008 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find myself continually referring to the premises of this book in my life. I really believe that our true age in life is changing through our experiences. As we deal with life's crises we have to regroup our ways, consequently our developmental age regresses until we're able to learn from and push through that passage in our life.
Depending on what we've been through in life and how we've dealt with what we have been through, we can either be well ahead of or well below our chronological age nu
Fenixbird SandS
Dec 05, 2008 Fenixbird SandS rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Ages
Recommended to Fenixbird by: Sociology teacher perhaps?
Author Gail Sheehy shares case studies & insights into barriers to happiness many of us encounter. "Know thyself" & what as an age or generation you expect, your past & present lovers expect, what makes us tick--and I feel good answers to the question, 'Why am I like this?' or 'Why did he/she do that?'" A somewhat lighter link to a current article with related subject:
Sep 18, 2012 Ariane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book opened my eyes, and reassured me. No, I'm not alone in my life crises. Yes, the future is full of promises. I've talked about this book around me and many people recognised themselves, too. Very insightful, well written and documented.
Some references are a bit outdated since the book was written in the 1970s (especially the role of women) but it's a minor inconvenience.
Feb 21, 2008 Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I haven't finished reading this book and started it while I was living in the Bahamas, i will tag it as currently reading.

This book is fantastic and really helps to understand both men and women as we head through the different passages that life brings our way. I have found it very insightful and helps me to know that I'm not losing my mind!

Rachel Ayers
Feb 14, 2013 Rachel Ayers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book was pretty dated (having been published in the 1970s) I found a lot of the argument still valid. I thought of many friends and acquaintances and their stories of internal malaise as I read through each section (age range) of the book. Very good read for anyone who wants to know about adult development.
Liz Rogers
Sep 13, 2009 Liz Rogers rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. Made me feel better about my worries about life. Apparently the are very common!

Note about this book: it was written in the 1970s. Keep that in mind when you read some of the life histories. But the basic idea of the book still stands for people today.
Kathie H
Apr 30, 2014 Kathie H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's take all of Sigmund Freud's "work" and use it to line the birdcage. Passages is the reference book to see what's ahead (and behind) for people of every age phase. Loved this book, Sheehy's writing style, fact finding, and case studies. A must-read for every age.
Apr 11, 2010 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: counselling
This book meant a lot to me because I was reading it when I met a good looking Canadian fresh off the plane. Amazingly, he too was reading the book and we sat till long in the night discussing what it meant to us. He has now been my husband for 29 years!
Apr 25, 2016 Ella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Book. The great part of this book is the amount stories she collected from various people. I think it's great to have so much insight on other peoples lives and to make comparisons of how I've seen these patterns in my own life. Sheehy is clearly a feminist and makes some very notable claims for female and male relations. She has a wonderful way with words that pulls you through the book even if the material is a little thicker. The book was written in the seventies and I think it would be ...more
Teri Temme
May 17, 2014 Teri Temme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don Kaiser
Mar 16, 2011 Don Kaiser rated it liked it
Gail Sheehy is not a psychiatrist, she's a journalist. This book bills itself as "a road map for adult life." It spends a lot of time discussing what she calls "marker events" and "developmental stages." The marker events are the outside stuff and the developmental stages happen inside us. We tend to attribute how we are feeling at any given time to the marker event itself, when that event is just a catalyst to move us forward to another stage in life.

Though uncomfortable and often painful, thes
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Chosen as a seminal work on a topic that fascinates me, I've labored to complete Sheeny's classic on life transitions. Not because her writing is difficult; no, it is often lyrical. But because her findings are simple and irrefutable, and reading them left me feeling that my own life is a cliche.

We are so predictable. This truth comforts and confounds at the same time.

Written in the early 1970's, some references and examples are decidedly reflections of that time. However, the struggle to free
Felicia Risolo
Jan 05, 2016 Felicia Risolo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a while to get through this book since I initially wasn't that into it, but it really grew on me as each chapter went by. I've never read a book that went into so much detail about each era of your life as a woman and man. I thought it was really interesting how she was including the couples she had interviewed in some of the chapters because it gave her research more depth in my eyes.

Will definitely pass on the book for someone else to read! Even though the book contains some outdated
Oct 29, 2014 Caryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I read but don't remember well the original book. I enjoyed hearing about her life since it intertwined with so much of the pop culture of NY in the 60's and 70's.
John Hawkins
I traveled trhough so many passages since I read this book, I can not remeber a damn thing about it.
I struggled against the premise of predictability. didn't agree with author
Self explanatory title, and a reasonably well thought book.
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Gail Sheehy is an American writer and lecturer, most notable for her books on life and the life cycle. She is also a contributor to the magazine Vanity Fair.

Her fifth book, Passages, has been called "a road map of adult life". Several of her books continue the theme of passages through life's stages, including menopause and what she calls "Second Adulthood", including Pathfinders, Spirit of Surviv
More about Gail Sheehy...

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“50, there is a new warmth and mellowing. Friends become more important than ever, but so does privacy. Since it is so often proclaimed by people past midlife, the motto of this stage might be “No more bullshit.” 0 likes
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