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The Slippery Year by Melanie Gideon

Updated: Aug 20, 2019


The Slippery Year is a memoir by American writer Melanie Gideon. The subtitle is How one woman found happiness in everyday life, and it’s a deeply personal, bittersweet and above all very funny story about learning to take pleasure in the minutiae of life with a husband and young son.


The book is filled with amusing anecdotes and set-pieces from the writer’s life: on one occasion, Melanie’s husband comes home the proud owner of a new campervan. As she describes it, this is no ordinary van – it’s a 4x4 Rock Crawler version, built to climb gorges and traverse rivers. She says it features on its front bumper a cattle-guard contraption that must have been handy when ploughing through herds of wildebeests in the Serengeti but is presumably unnecessary in the suburbs.


Melanie refuses to leave the city in it, on the grounds that the van’s toilet has to be emptied by hand, so the family compromises by venturing out to park up at the local shopping village, which Melanie sees as a particularly good destination because the supermarket is close by in case they need to stock up on provisions.


This anecdote gives you an idea of the spirit and humour of the book – it’s comical and touching in equal measures. Melanie worries about whether her household catastrophe plan is comprehensive enough, and about how she’s going to smuggle contraband Tamiflu from Canada to combat bird flu. When her son Ben goes to camp for a week – his first time away from home – she misses him so much that she sneaks in and hides behind some shrubbery to watch him play in the camp soccer tournament. When she’s not fretting about the health and safety of her loved ones, she’s slinking off to a discount hair salon in Chinatown for complicated straightening procedures, so no one ever finds out she has naturally curly hair.


I give The Slippery Year an 8 out of 10 – the only thing I didn’t like was that it ended too soon and I wanted more. I have a feeling that Melanie Gideon has many more stories to tell, particularly as Ben gets older, and I hope she’s inspired to publish more installments in the life of the Gideon family.


And, if you pick up this book and want more from Melanie Gideon, you’re in luck – she blogs and provides other news and updates at melaniegideon.com.


This review was previously published on Coast.co.nz.


Reviewer: Stephanie Jones

Orion Publishing

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