(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

College-educated women in the first half of their adult life have been raised to think they can have it all. But as they reach adulthood, it becomes clear that they certainly cannot have it all at once. The societal changes which have brought about increased opportunities for this group have indeed been monumental but equally they are incomplete, Peggy Orenstein reminds readers. Women today wrestle with tough choices and difficult compromises as they face complex decisions impacting career, family, and personal life. Breaking into the boardrooms of America may mean working alone in a man’s world; bearing and raising children still impedes a woman's career far more than a man's; staying at home can feel like turning away from hard- won opportunities.

When Orenstein reached a time of decision in her own life she decided to try and find out how other women had navigated these passages. Across the United States she interviewed women or listened in as they talked in groups. The people whose conversations she reports in this work are “neither representative nor comprehensive” but they are women like herself, college-educated and aged between the ages of 25 and 45. Still, there is a range here: city and suburban women; black and white; students and at-home mothers; career women breaking new ground or employed in more traditionally “women friendly” occupations.

Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Kids, Love, and Life in a Half-Changed World is not a project which comes to much in the way of a conclusion. But there's no whining here and little judgement. The exploration of today's half-changed world is the purpose of this study and there is enough here to pique the interest of any reader who has grappled with life choices amongst a bewilderment of internal and external constraints.