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It's very difficult to imagine Judith Viorst writing a bad book. She is an excellent writer and gears her writing toward the existential crisis' of life, development, etc. As some reviewers suggest, she backs up what she say with a fair amount of references to psychological literature, but she is certainly credible and although the book doesn't read like a dime store novel, it's also very accessible to the average adult without any psychological training.
The dance between control and surrender is very difficult for most people and comes up in couples, the workplace and other areas of life. This is the main topic of the book and describes why this is so and how to work with it toward achieving peace of mind. Much of this work has to do with reframing the human condition and daily struggles we all face in a more realistic fashion. It's about finding the balance point between control and surrender moment-to-moment.
Some of the areas of particular interest to me were the chapters on taking possession of ourselves, who controls the couple, the power of sex, permanent parenthood and in control of death. This is all practical and serious stuff and often areas where people confront considerable pain. While this book or any book doesn't provide all of the answers on these difficult life questions in terms of surrender and control, it will give you powerful insights and more flexibility for dealing with them.
I've been reading Judith Viorst for years -- first reading "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good Very Bad Day" to my children, a book in itself about imperfect control -- but somehow missed this one until recently. There are many valuable sections, but the one on being a parent of adult children especially resonated with me. (I am horrified to hear the words -- unasked for -- of advice that seem to escape my mouth.) She approaches this section with her usual wry humor, and stories of her own stuggles with letting go of attempts to control her adult sons. Whether a parent or not, there is much in this book to assist a reader in making peace with their lives, and hopefully making some better decisions about what we CAN control, while letting go of what we can't. The chapter on death is worth the price of the book; I expect I will be re-reading it now and then. (It propelled me to update my Power of Attorney for medical decisions, since some laws have changed since last done.)
A beautifully written account of the extent to which issues of control or the lack of it are woven so thoroughly into all our lives. A casual look around the political world we live in gives one an up-close version of exactly what Ms. Viorst is talking about. Isn't it all ultimately about power and control?
I'd love to read an update of this book that addresses how social media has impacted our efforts at control.
This is a great book that helps you understand why you are the way you are. It also answers a lot of other questions and the company I ordered it for from Amazon was quick with delivery and it arrived actually sooner than I thought it would!
if you have read "necessary losses" from the same author, and also if you have'nt, this book is a must for all of us. mrs. viorst has a clear and direct style with a good sense of humor. do yourself a favor and buy now!!
Years ago, her book "Necessary Losses" helped me cope with a sudden divorce & abrupt tearing apart of what I'd believed to be a happy family. I needed help understanding what was happening & forging a framework to keep the future bright for my three little ones. What I learned from "Necessary Losses" helped innumerable times in the years to follow. I expect "Imperfect Control" to be just as helpful as I struggle with not unexpected but nonetheless difficult changes in my life in retirement. Ms Viorst writes carefully, but with a conversational style that makes her books easy to read and digest. Within the first 30 pages it already feels like I'm conversing with a longtime friend and skillful therapist.