There Are No Grown-Ups by Pamela Druckerman
I love Pamela Druckerman’s writing. Her last book, French Children Don’t Throw Food, was, and still is, an international bestseller. To be clear, she is not the author of the French Women Don’t Get Fat books. French Children Don’t Throw Food is also not just a book for parents. It is an original and brilliant hybrid of memoir and cultural analysis – imagine Almost French meets Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother with a dash of Nora Ephron (to whom Druckerman is often compared).
What makes Druckerman’s writing in both French Children Don’t Throw Food and her latest book, There Are No Grown-Ups, so entertaining and addictive is her insatiable curiosity about humans and culture, her incessant research, and her extraordinary, comical honesty. Few people could write a book that tackles a threesome as a fortieth birthday present, different cultural attitudes towards ageing, and sudden, life-threatening illness with such a consistent spirit of enquiry, humour, and humility.
In examining the approach of middle age, specifically from within the forties, Druckerman interrogates the personal, political, and social elements of her subject in her inimitable way. She interviews experts, researches extensively, and frequently uses herself as a guinea pig. She is always seeking a better understanding of what is happening around her, and she elaborates on this need and its origins in the course of her explorations.
I was shocked to learn what she had been dealing with while on the press tour for her last book, and touched by what she reveals about the things that drive her. While Druckerman brings her unique perspective to many of the expected topics and conundrums of ageing, what she writes about the positive changes age brings to a career, to a writer and to a person’s sense of self, are of particular interest. I was worried I would be disappointed; I wasn’t.