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My Review of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over by Cathy Alter

"Cancel that Subscription and Live Your Life!"

Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over is the delightful and intelligent account of the real life journey by Cathy Alter to see if in her late 30s she could change her life for the better. In a unique, witty approach, she examines the problems she faces and decides to try and conquer them by studying and following the directions found in the popular women's magazines that she and so many women subscribe to and revere. She committed to taking one year to follow the advice from magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour. She imagined that at the end of the year her physical, social, financial, work, home, and romantic aspects in her life would all come together to make her a new and happier woman.

With what could be a light chick-lit type book, Alter instead adds characters from her real life that add just enough authenticity to the story to realize you aren't reading a light "beach read", but rather a woman's journey into discovering herself and rebuilding her life. Alter's reality includes her perfectionist mother and the intricate relationship they share, as well as a very close friend who is battling a serious illness. Of course, a serious younger man love interest, Karl, is included along with his domineering Chinese mother as well as her not too helpful psychiatrist.

As Cathy Alter takes this year long journey, she discovers many things about herself. Gradually, Alter and the reader will begin to see that the magazines aren't really what Cathy needed to make herself happy. An astute reader will also learn for themselves the same thing that the author did. She finds that anything in your life can be changed if you have made the decision to do it. Recognizing that you DO need to make changes in your life is half the battle and once that decision is made, half the battle is won.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read and one that was entertaining as well as informative. I found myself nodding in agreement so many times as the discoveries, as well as the mistakes, Alter encountered. They were the same kind of things any of us can face and change with a positive attitude.

Submitted by Karen Haney, August, 2008