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Pucker Up!


Pucker Up! The Subversive Woman's Guide to Aging With Wit, Wine, Drama, Humor, Perspective, and the Occasional Good Cry is a cheeky, irreverent, funny, and occasionally poignant guide for women on aging well. The book is lavishly illustrated and lightly organized.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Penguin, 2011

Imagine three generations of women living under one roof — a grandmother with a shoplifting habit, a recent divorcee who's given up on sex, and a teenager whose marijuana brownies get served a little more widely than she intended. In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly said, "There’s a rare honesty in Pennebaker’s work that allows for both empathy and schadenfreude as the women examine themselves and each other, and their inner lives have a winning warts-and-all air of authenticity. Pennebaker’s effort delivers right through to its hopeful but realistic conclusion."

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Both Sides Now

Holt, 2000

A loving family struggles to re-create itself so it can survive in "this subtle, absorbing examination of a girl's difficult passage into maturity through the voice of one of the truest narrators in the genre" (Kirkus, pointer review). Mostly told in the voice of 15-year-old Liza, this novel also includes passages written by the mother, which The Horn Book Magazine, in a starred review, called "a remarkable portrait of a woman who, exhausted by the effort of maintaining her cheery facade, can no longer be who her family expects her to be."

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Conditions of Love

Holt, 1999

Sarah Morgan, 14, wrestles with the mysteries of sex, friendship, and her growing -- and disturbing -- knowledge of a beloved father, who died recently. "Characterization is effortless and effective, funny and perceptive, setting Sarah's milieu in a Texan patchwork of big-haired ex-cheerleaders, sex-affirmative Christian psychiatrists, and youthful casualties of bitter divorce," said The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, which honored this book as a Blue Ribbon title.

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Don't Think Twice

Holt, 1996

Smart-talking, funny and brokenhearted Anne Harper, age 17, grows up and grows wiser as she brings her baby to term in an unwed mothers' home in Texas in 1967. This "masterful first novel" (Kirkus), which the Voice of Youth Advocates called "an absolute winner," was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a BookSense 76 choice, and a finalist in the Texas Institute of Letters' Young Adult category.

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Essays, Humor

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Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide and Feeling Blue


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Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We're Saying Now


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A Texas Family Time Capsule


A collection of Ruth Pennebaker's best newspaper columns, A Texas Family Time Capsule is what most mental-health experts would call a cry for help from a woman who finds herself trapped in a world teeming with Martha Stewart and Monica Lewinsky, middle-aged centerfolds in Playboy and remote-control fireplaces, holiday newsletters that induce nationwide nausea, abuse of apostrophes, and time-management tips for toddlers.

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Parents: A Toddler's Guide

Clarkson-Potter, 1986

Parents is a view of the world of grown-ups, as narrated by a wiseacre two-year-old who goes eyeball-to-kneecap with the well-meaning giants in the house. A humorous classic that is also, tragically, out of print.

Stork Realities: What No One Ever Tells You About Pregnancy

Harper & Row, 1985

Stork Realities is a pregnancy book with attitude, humor and oddball facts about the gestation period of the human female. Tragically, it is out of print.

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