A wry debut by a humorist and journalist that combines memoir with tongue-in-check self-help.
The book is set up as a guide for those who want to leave the coastal cities where they have established their careers for smaller and cheaper towns in mid-America. Clune (co-author: Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing It All Year Long, 2016, etc.) left New York City for her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, once she was married and had two young kids and, not coincidentally, was faced with the horrifying prospect of paying private school tuition for them. While the author’s insights into New York (“a people-watching paradise, with absorbing human dramas everywhere you look”) and the Midwest (which has “a preponderance of three things: snow, alcohol, and white people”) are more predictable than surprising, her self-deprecating persona has its charms. Her pleasure with the newfound benefits of suburban living (“in Wisconsin, we could do the laundry whenever it was dirty”) is evident, though some may find her taste for four-letter words less enchanting. Clune has a gift for quirky and thought-provoking overstatements (“nobody in America considers moving without, at some point, looking at Seattle”) and telling details: After she moved to Madison, she writes, “the number of weekly conversations we had about quilting went from zero to five.” The author divides the book into four sections, dedicated to “deciding to go,” “settling in,” “learning to adapt,” and “mastery.” Sandwiched among the snarky observations on food in the Midwest, where “the two main cooking seasons are grilling and Crock-Pot,” and rants about some of her pet peeves, which include Target and gratitude journals, are some useful bits of advice for those contemplating or engaged in a major move. “I do sincerely hope that before you move,” she writes, “you'll say good-bye to all of those baggy, ripped undies you've held on to for years 'just in case.’ ”
Even readers with no intention of uprooting their lives will likely be amused by Clune's low-key and relatable adventures.