This is an unusual hybrid of a book: part intimate memoir and part how-to/inspirational guide. The combination, in the hands of a writer with less talent or less capacity for self-reflection and self-deprecation, could have been superficial or even dismissive of others’ struggles. Steven Sharp’s book is just the opposite.
It tracks Sharp’s realization that, in middle age, he was not the person he wanted to be. He was not healthy, had not accomplished his long held dream of writing a book, and experienced very little joy. Many of us, whatever our age, have had similar realizations. And we either pushed the thought away or let it take us into a depression. Steven Sharp found the courage to change it. All of it. From improving his body to changing his relationships to writing a book. And “Forty-Five is the New Twenty-Five” is his chronicle of the process.
Sharp uses the recurring theme of slavery when referring to himself before he took charge of his own life. He references Phyllis Wheatley, a slave who was also the first African-American woman to become a published poet. He uses her as a kind of beacon and symbol of what is possible and what can be accomplished, no matter how adverse the circumstances.
From small things like referring to himself as a New York Times bestselling author before he had even published a book, to larger things like connecting with others and creating a support system, this is a story about facing reality and finding the courage to change it. It is about confronting the perfectionism that keeps you from trying and about not allowing yourself to give up, give in or stop dreaming. There are useful hints about motivation and keeping yourself going, but the overall message about creating your own life is the most cogent. And the most moving. As Sharp says, “You can’t lie in bed ignoring the silent, inaudible reminders to behave differently that travel into your consciousness from a probable you that exists only in your dreams.”
The memoir is extremely affecting, even though it is not at all maudlin or “inspirational” in the traditional sense. It is funny, insightful, engaging and touching. And it fosters hope for anyone’s ability to create his or her own future, no matter how bad things have gotten and no matter what the odds against realizing a long-deferred dream are. This is not just a book for 40-somethings: it is a book for anyone who has ever been paralyzed by a fear of failure, anyone with a goal that was never realized or anyone who has felt “stuck.” And that is all of us.
From the Book
“I have to figure out how to be the hero of my own story. I have to get control of the food I eat, my weight, how often I exercise; I have to learn what I am doing writing this book.
The ghetto is in your mind, Steven. The ghetto is in your mind, Steven thinks to himself as the image of Phillis Wheatley fills his head. Steven re-reads Section 1 of his book for the umpteenth time. My book is getting so good.
I wish I had someone to send this text to.”
About the Author
For most of his adult life, Steven Sharp has been obsessed with discovering the meaning of life. In his late twenties, this quest led him to a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling Psychology and to devour a plethora of self-help books as he sought to figure out the meaning of his life. Although he has never practiced in the field of Psychology, he has always known on some level he would return to the helping profession later in life.
Steven’s first book, 45 is the New 25, is a work of narrative nonfiction that chronicles the journey of a forty-five-year-old “every man” as he figures out how to get back in shape, realize his lifelong dream of becoming a published author, and return to the place in his life when he believed the best years of his life lie still before him. He hopes his journey inspires his readers to make the changes they desire in their own lives and return to the emotional, affective state where they look forward to the years that lie ahead.
Steven enjoys circuit/interval fitness classes, staying in shape, and team tennis. He currently resides in the Poncey-Highlands section of Atlanta.