Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around

I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around by Ann Garvin
Tyrus Books: 6/4/16 

eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781440595455

I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around by Ann Garvin is a highly recommended family drama.

Tig Monahan is a classic caregiver, people pleaser, and part of the sandwich generation. She's trying to make sure her mother, Hallie, who has Alzheimer's, has the best care possible and is settling into Hope House, an assisted living facility without any help from her sister Wendy. She is a therapist who is reaching the end of her patience. She is a partner in a relationship where her boyfriend, Peter, wants/expects her to leave everything and go to Hawaii on sabbatical with him. Clearly, Tig has some issues.

Predictably, since no one can do it all, Tig reaches her breaking point. At her last day of work, a therapy practice she gave notice to leave so she could go with Peter to Hawaii, she snaps at a patient during couple's therapy and lets him know exactly what she thinks. Then, with her mother not settling in and Wendy nowhere in sight and not taking her calls, she decides she simply can't leave with Peter right away. Peter leaves Tig with a load of guilt. Then Wendy shows up, with no notice, 9 months pregnant. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of issues. No wonder Tig is stressed out. Now she's jobless with a very pregnant sister staying with her and a mother who never recognizes her. Could things get worse? Can Tig really take care of everything for everyone all the time?

Garvin does an excellent job keeping all the stressors of Tig's life realistic, while at the same time adding some humor and wit along with the realistic drama. Families can be messy. Aging parents that must be assisted by their children, who are already overly busy and stressed out, is a common occurrence. Garvin takes this fact and runs with it, while carefully developing the plot. Tig's character is well developed. Her struggles with handling everything are detailed and very realistic.

The quality of the writing sets this apart from other family dramas. Garvin keeps the plot moving as more things happen to Tig that force her to confront some personal revelations. There is one thread in the plot that happens a bit too smoothly, so you will have to suspend disbelief there. No spoilers - it will either bother you or it won't. I found it easy to overlook, but I did note its convenient placement in the plot. This would be a great choice for summer escapism reading.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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