On the shelf: For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance edited by Victoria Zackheim

forkeepsBy Michele Montegue
The 27 stories in “For Keeps” remind me of the spontaneous, intimate conversations that can happen between women when we share experiences and discover common ground. The common ground here is our bodies. Body image and acceptance, illness, surgery, chronic pain, weight, depression, aging. If you’ve ever waited anxiously in an examination room, argued with your mother about clothes, dreamed of the perfect body, or simply hated your nose, you will feel a
connection to these stories.
Each memoir is short, personal and readable. Some are tragic: a debilitating injury or a diagnosis of cancer. Others are celebratory, such as, “Making Love and Joy in Seasoned Bodies,” a story of injuries, aging and happiness. Many fall within
the realm of common experience: finding clothes that fit, caring for a dying husband. A couple are downright provocative: the author of “Divorcing My Breasts” wrote, “I’d been unhappily married to my breasts for as long as I could remember.”
The stories all have one thing in common: they’re written by women with
the advantage of age and experience. There’s a thread of wisdom throughout as each author cultivates an instinct to separate the truly important from the merely
cosmetic. There is little “fluff” here; the details are plain-spoken, sometimes even blunt, and the insights are grounded and realistic.
Most readers will find themselves somewhere among these stories and perhaps,
like me, learn from them as well. Like life itself, they are painful, enlightening, humorous, and enjoyable.