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Viorst explores, among the many other issues of this stage of life, the state of our sex lives and teeth, how we can stay married though thermostatically incompatible, and the joys of grandparenthood and shopping. Readers will nod with rueful recognition when she asks, "Am I required to think of myself as a basically shallow woman because I feel better when my hair looks good?," when she presses a few helpful suggestions on her kids because "they may be middle aged, but they're still my children," and when she graciously--but not too graciously--selects her husband's next mate in a poem deliciously subtitled "If I Should Die Before I Wake, Here's the Wife You Next Should Take." Though Viorst acknowledges she is definitely not a good sport about the fact that she is mortal, her poems are full of the pleasures of life right now, helping us come to terms with the passage of time, encouraging us to keep trying to fix the world, and inviting us to consider "drinking wine, making love, laughing hard, caring hard, and learning a new trick or two as part of our job description at seventy."
"I'm Too Young to Be Seventy" is a joy to read and makes a heartwarming gift for anyone who has reached or is soon to reach that--it's not so bad after all--seventh decade.
Just for fun
Please note that the subtitle of I'm Too Young to Be Seventy is "And Other Delusions." Yes, Judith Viorst is well aware that she's a septuagenarian, and in her hilarious and poignant new collection she has written a stellar set of poems to . . . celebrate? Commiserate? Whatever her motivation, Viorst's verses are whip-smart and will ring true to anyone entering this decade of their lives. (A noted children's book author whose latest volume for kids is reviewed elsewhere in this issue, Viorst also wrote collections to acknowledge her 40s, 50s and 60s.) In one of the funniest pieces, Viorst firmly insists that her middle-aged children still need her adviceeven though it's now about periodontal disease and tax-free bonds. In one of the sweetest, she writes, "Still married after all these years? / No mystery. / We are each other's habit, / and each other's history." Readers don't need to be anywhere near 70 to appreciate such sentiments.