“Book Review: Slip-Resistant Socks”
Reviewed by Jendayi Omowale
This courageous memoir holds nothing back to help raise mental health awareness
First-time author Bryce Hostetler bares his most vulnerable self in Slip-Resistant Socks, a memoir about his journey with bipolar disorder. It’s a candid portrait of the author’s life from his childhood growing up in a low-income household to his years of myriad jobs and hospitalizations in adulthood. In a society that stigmatizes mental illness, Slip-Resistant Socks uses honesty & strong storytelling to humanize those living with bipolar disorder.
The memoir begins with the narrator reflecting on the trappings of generational poverty in his family of nine and the social anxiety that begins to emerge in his childhood friendships and crushes. The audience goes on an emotional rollercoaster with Bryce as he pens this agonizing wall of isolation early on.
The narrator marinates in a rough catharsis by writing out the incessant thought-spirals and intense mood changes that plague his daily life, offering us an honest and eye-opening view of his struggles. We see Bryce face the cycles of mania and depression that mark the onset of his bipolar disorder in college, and the pages soon begin to build an intricate picture of the “torrents of depression” and “storms of mania” that define his various troubles later on.
Still, there are touching moments in the midst of the storm, like Bryce’s relationship with his professor Mary, his time with the Fearsome Four, or his co-workers from Walmart who all show him in different ways that there are people out there willing to love and provide support for those who have mental health issues, even if their support is flawed in nature.
Hostetler’s memoir educates readers and offers them valuable insight into the world of mood and personality disorders. It speaks to our shared humanity and the shadows of the self we leave behind in familial trauma and broken relationships, while illustrating how people with these disorders are seen in a world that is ableist, classist, and discriminatory in a number of ways.
This book succeeds in its efforts to personalize mental illness and to describe each and every nuance of bipolar disorder and its comorbidities. I do think Slip-Resistant Socks can sometimes have a rough time switching between the water-filled imagery of torrents and rainstorms along with his everyday life, but, ultimately, this book comes as an easy recommendation for me to all those looking to better understand the challenges those with mental illnesses face in our ableist society.
Category: Nonfiction / Mental Health
Print length: 228 pages
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