This article is from the October 2001 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Book Review
Midlife Mavericks : Women Reinventing Their Lives in Mexico

by Karen Blue. Universal Publishers, 2000, 189 pages. ISBN: 1581127197. 

Reviewed by Lynne Doyle 

Lynne is a frequent MF contributor from Maine. Her article, “East Coast West Coast,” which appeared in the March 2001 issue, compared Cancún with Puerto Vallarta. 

This is an interesting book, written by a very interesting woman. It’s certainly not for everyone – men probably wouldn’t find it fascinating – but for the right readers, it’s got a lot to say.  

In 1996, at the age of 52, Karen Blue was a divorced Silicon Valley executive with grown children, wondering “Is this all there is to my life?” Through a series of events, she found herself moving to Ajijic, a village on the north shore of Lake Chapala, about an hour south of Guadalajara. Soon after her arrival, she joined a local writers’ group and began to write her story. After she read the first chapter to her group, someone suggested that she interview other women and include their stories as well. She found immediate contributors and the rest, as they say, is history.  

While major U.S. publishers like the book, they did not think the market was big enough to justify publication, so Blue, as she is known, published it herself. This says something to me about this woman’s determination and commitment. As she says in her introduction, “I decided to publish myself so other women might be motivated to change an unsatisfactory life.”  

I’ve read as many books about moving to Mexico as I can get my hands on, and the recurring theme in all of them, no matter who the author is, seems to be renewal and rediscovery. This book is no exception. Karen Blue tells her own story with amazing candor, describing with humor and honesty how she had to abandon her control freak persona in order to survive in Mexico, and how immeasurably that major change in her life has enriched it. She speaks of redefining herself and her goals, and she is inspiring because she has done it.  

The best of this book, however, are the stories of “ordinary women who have made extraordinary choices.” Blue has conducted her interviews with intuition and warmth, seeking both the spiritual and practical aspects of the lives of each of the women included. The result is a well-rounded view of how a woman in the second half of her life might approach such a radical change. Some of the stories are great successes, and some are not. Some of the subjects have stayed and made better lives for themselves, and some have given up and gone home. All of the stories are funny, touching, heartfelt, inspiring. I finished this book with a newfound respect for the courage that the most unlikely people can sometimes find in themselves, as well as a greater sense of the practical aspects involved in moving to and making a life in Mexico. It’s not for everyone, and I’m far from sure it’s for me, but it helps to know, from the “horse’s mouth,” how some people have managed to make such a great change and make it work for them.  

As a post-script, I checked out Karen Blue’s website and reviewed her book, and at her invitation, e-mailed her. She is just as she seems in her book – funny, generous, busy, cordial, and eager to help others in any way she can to discover what she has found in Mexico.