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Book Review: When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win by Carol Leifer

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I hate the title. But once I got past that, I loved the book, When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win: Reflections On Looking In The Mirror, by Carol Leifer.

Leifer is more than 50 and the book is a series of vignettes about her life during middle age. In some of the chapters — which are exclusive to the others and in no chronological order — she’s in her 40s, while in others she’s in her 50s. Leifer talks about things that all of us “middle-agers” can relate to, getting older with all our aches to our self-realization.

She talks about how she was straight, married and met her lesbian partner, Lori. She just wanted to have an affair once with a woman and it turned out that she was admittedly homosexual. The chapter was funny and quite poignant.

Leifer also talks about the death of her father, which was very sad but relatable. She and her siblings were dividing up his belongings after he passed away. Her mother didn’t want any of it. Leifer found it difficult to cope with all his belongings around. So the three children divided his stuff, from his wallet (which still had his license and insurance cards) to his Seiko watch.

Their father had a pair of shoes, which he wore all the time. Leifer writes that she didn’t even know the brand name because it wore off with time. She always insisted that he replace them but he said, “Why should I replace them, these work just fine.” The children didn’t know what to do with the shoes, so they left them in the back of their mother’s closet. One day, Leifer went back to Long Island, where she grew up, took the shoes out of her mother’s closet and donated them to Goodwill. She realized that even though her father had passed, he’s still with her all the time.

You learn about Leifer’s dislike at first for dogs and cats and how she falls in love with them and eventually has seven rescue dogs.

Leifer also talks about her 30th class reunion and how after the 10th-year anniversary you needed to prove yourself, but after 30 years it’s just good to be there and see everyone.

The reader also learns about Leifer’s dislike of plastic surgery, because as she says in the book, people don’t look themselves any longer.

Years after she was with her partner, Lori, the two decide to get their Bat Mitzvah, both never having the opportunity as a child. This was a fulfilling experience for both of them as Carol rediscovers her religion and understands her father and her “people.”

She also talks about how she adopted a Latino boy named Bruno who they converted to Judaism and the experience that she and her partner shared.

I really enjoyed this memoir. I felt that I could relate to Carol Leifer, living on Long Island and a having similar upbringing. In the book, she touches upon important issues that we, as women, all eventually face.

When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win is a powerful book on the journey that most women take when they enter their middle years. It was a beautifully written book that was funny at times, sad at times, and when you finish it, it leaves you with a big smile on your face.

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