"I quickly learned that the primary joy and challenge of parenthood was to trust the spirit I had given birth to, and to know when to rein in and when to let go." So writes Catherine Goldhammer in Winging It (Hudson Street), a bemusing narrative about the struggles and pleasures of becoming a divorced-parent empty-nester. What will she do? Who will she be without the templates of marriage and motherhood? Fortunately, Goldhammer is strikingly imaginative (she wryly enjoys the excitement—and denouement—of a fantasy romance as much if not more than a real one), deeply engaged with her friends, family, and her small menagerie of pets, and, finally, optimistic about what she gracefully presents as the opportunities of aging. "We have our disappointments and our elations," she writes. "The twin cyclones of marriage and parenthood hit and consume our souls. ... Take away the newness of what we were, what our children now are, and maybe we have another chance to set forward into the promise of our future. Maybe everything unnecessary, everything false or fearful, is whittled away by time, and we do return to our essence, to whatever we have always been: what kind of tree, what kind of water, what kind of wind."
— Valerie Monroe