Every September school day, legions of American mothers spend time jockeying into a good position in line and then waiting—waiting for the dismissal bell to ring and the children to descend scanning the line, looking for mom.
Some twenty years into a relationship and nine years into motherhood, Melanie Gideon was one of those moms lined up outside her son's school in California wondering what happened. Almost forty-four and a long, long way from her mother and sisters in her native New England, she missed them all, especially her twin sister Dawn. She loved her husband. He was healthy and so was their son. So, why didn't she feel right? She asked herself: Is this all there is? What happened to her "happily ever after"?
The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After focuses on these questions and, month by month, explores Gideon's current life with humor and insight. What do you do when your husband goes online and buys a camper van you don't want and it comes to live in the driveway? Why won't son Ben consent to a recycled costume and dress for Halloween as a fallen angel? When the new mattress doesn't work out, don't you just exchange it? Yes, but how many times? All of these incidents and more help move Gideon toward resolution.
Finally, as summer rolls by, September looms again and she returns to beckoning New England and her family. Gideon realizes that this is a place she loved and that she still loves, but it is not where she belongs. She knows where home is.
The book is fun to read and insightful. Gideon, who has written young adult fiction, has an excellent ear and a charming sense of what matters and what doesn't. All memoir fans will enjoy this book, most especially those who are mid-year moms and share her questions and anxieties. Read it and weep; read it and smile.
A Rhode Island native, Melanie Gideon graduated from Emerson College. The author of two young-adult novels she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. You can visit her and learn more on her website.
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