Who Knew? Lessons From My First Forty Years, by Christine R. Andola

I’ll be turning 39 this year. Not too far off from the big 4-0. There were a lot of things in my life I imagined for myself by this age, and while some of them have come to fruition, there are a few that haven’t. One of the lessons Andola advises the rest of us to focus on, is to appreciate where we are, versus pining for the rest.

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She gives a candid look into her past, just like the synopsis mentions, yet what’s not there is the amount of grace Andola has while figuring it all out. And what I really admire is her ability to let it go. A good example of this is her reflection on past extended family traditions she’d been part of, and how she tried desperately to incorporate that into her own family. The thing is, all it did was cause a lot more stress. I love how she says, “unless you can fit into that red velvet dress Grandma made you when you were eight, you cannot have the same holiday experiences again.” She suggests taking a few of the traditions you loved as a kid, then create some of your own, something new with your family, so they still know what it’s like to have a tradition.

But I think what resonated most with me, is how it feels to be this age and to still feel uncertain about friendships. I always felt the hardest times would be during my adolescent years, yet that’s far from true. And while I’ve struggled personally with wanting to ensure that I get along with everyone, as I’ve gotten older I realize that’s not realistic, either. There will be people who don’t like me, and vice versa. Or, I may have a falling out with someone due to various reasons, the biggest being that we’re both in different places in our lives, and ultimately it’s okay. Sometimes I forget that, or feel as though I might be the only one experiencing that, so it was nice to read about Andola’s own struggles with it. I also appreciate the friendships, new and old that I do have even more.

This was a sweet, honest read, for anyone who is looking for guidance and help in finding a way to dig a little deeper, to embark on their own soul searching journey of the past, reconciling with the present. And while the title reflects on nearing 40, really anyone at any stage in their lives can glean a lot of inspiration from her words.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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