Book Review: The Late Bloomer’s Revolution by Amy Cohen

October 16, 2008

Those who know me (or who know my writing), may be surprised by my choice for my first book review attempt.  It’s not that I don’t like chick-lit or that I have to be eponymous.  I never expected, similar to the Jewish-female author Amy Cohen, to be addressing my own life as a single woman at the age of “late twenties.”

I’ve been the type of girl whose always had a boyfriend.  In 8th grade, I shared my first kiss with a boy near the creak by my parents house.  (He later came out which means I now carry the badge of “I turned someone gay.”  Which, by my translation, means I-helped-him-realize-slash-accept-who-he-is).  For my first two years of high school, I dated a Frenchman pretty steadily (minus a brief stint with a half-Fin, half-Moroccan who I ended up dating during my junior year).  For my last year of high school, it was a math crush who liked computers and clubbing.  

My freshman and sophomore years of college were majorly influenced by an economics major who had a penchant for English Language and Literature.¹  He graduated after my first year but his dismal existence after graduation (read: job in marketing and living with parents in a midwestern state) and my own dismal existence during my sophomore year (read: living in a sorority house) kept us longing for weekends together.   This certain guy had kept kosher since he was Bar Mitzvah’d and had maintained his virginity throughout his own college years.  (Operative word: had.  both times.)  

And, I hardly skipped a beat when I met my next ex, who ended up being the first guy with whom I shared an apartment.  (Bad idea.)  He moved to a city with no job and no friends for our love.  At the same time, I attended school, worked a few jobs, and volunteered at a few more.  (Bad idea number 2).  

Then there was a Republican hipster whose locker was next to mine in school and whose black-framed glasses were the coolest accessory in the halls.  He is an exemplary force of calmness and kindness.  He defines friendship for me.  This guy is something special; he’s a “catch.”  He taught me how to argue with the best of them.  Which, by my translation, means he taught me how to have an enlightening discussion with someone who holds different beliefs, values, political ideals than my own.  

Finally, there was someone who I met on JDate and who turned out to be my cousin.  (Long but funny story.  We aren’t really cousins.  His mom’s sister’s ex-husband is my mom’s sister’s current husband.  His first cousins are my first step-cousins.  See?  no blood relation.)  He loves baseball and is probably completely elated right now at the Phillies win over the Dodgers (*swoon*: Hamels).  He always told me to go after what I want, be myself, and then he’d be happy.  

So, now, here I am.  Single.  With no end in sight.  And Amy Cohen’s book resonated with me.  I am still at the age where she said she was career-focused, which is why she was not married.  That may be true.  In fact, I know it’s true.  But what’s even more true, I think was Amy Cohen’s mother’s advice at the beginning of the book, “‘People who want to be married are married…So if you really wanted to be married, you would be!’  She clapped her hands in a single loud strike.  ’That’s the answer.  When you really want it, it will happen.”

Back to here I am.  I don’t want to be married right now.  It’s hard enough for me to figure out what I want to wear in the morning.  I’m still trying to decide how I can one day become a famous writer (first step: actually write!) and get an article published in the New Yorker (it’s not just Augusten Burroughs’s mom who has those pipe dreams!).  Until then, my family and close friends can get phone calls with the theme “O’woe is me” because I feel like my life’s a waste without getting closer to that published page.

Amy Cohen’s memoir is a dedication to her mother, her role model, who died too early.  Amy becomes closer to her father because of this untimely loss for both of them (Amy made me smile quite a few times as she describes her defiant teenage years when her father almost-ignores his artsy daughter’s existence.  Which, by my translation, means the fact that he rolled his eyes at her shows that he did in fact see her for who she was and who she was trying to be.)

I read this book over a weekend in August.  I think I finished it on a Sunday night at 4 o’clock in the morning when I couldn’t get to sleep.  (Though maybe I couldn’t get to sleep because I was finishing the book.  I can never tell.)  It’s a quick read and a feel-good-book that does not have an expected ending (cf. _The Year of Yes_, another one of my reads this year.)

After seeing a certain motivational speaker last Friday, I’ve been told to look for Life’s Little Coincidences (is that a coincidence in its own right?).  This week’s New Yorker features an article about late bloomers by Malcolm Gladwell.

That word ["patron"] has a condescending edge to it today, because we think it far more appropriate for artists (and everyone else for that matter) to be supported by the marketplace. But the marketplace works only for people like Jonathan Safran Foer, whose art emerges, fully realized, at the beginning of their career, or Picasso, whose talent was so blindingly obvious that an art dealer offered him a hundred-and-fifty-franc-a-month stipend the minute he got to Paris, at age twenty. If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan, and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes for your art to reach its true level…

This is the final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others. 

Therefore, I take the title of a Late Bloomer and wear it with pride.  And, written above?  That’s no collection of exes.  That’s my ever-changing fan club.  Mom, Dad, when I ask you for money to pay off my student loans, I’m simply focusing on my career.  

My head is not in the clouds.  I’m part of a revolution.

Remember, you heard it here first (yes, that is a link to another site.  Come now, we all know that you only have so much time in one day.)

¹ Because these were “my college years,” I did enjoy some extra-curricular activities including meeting a dreamy boy in Cancun over spring break as I sat on the floor of a dirty club and stared into space.  Safe, no?

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2 Responses to “ Book Review: The Late Bloomer’s Revolution by Amy Cohen ”

  1. RustedJesus on October 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Nice work. Your review feels more like a friend telling me why she liked it (i.e. how it resonated) rather than a pompous asshole telling me the novel flows adequately/inadequately and reminds ‘em of some other writer they either love or despise.

    Though I may not be able to relate to the actual recounted events in the book, you have convinced me to add it to my reading list because between the lines, it sounds like I’ll understand. everything Amy Cohen is trying to tell me.

  2. bucky_katz on October 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    i will add this one to my list as well. along with the movie. i loved Gilmores too much to pass up on that.

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