Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publishing Date: 16th April 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 288
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Have you ever wondered if you love your dog better than your spouse?
Or what happened to the last ten years?
Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author has taken an embarrassing nose dive. Her teenage son Teddy treats her with a combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled ‘snackologist’ who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.
Gleefully irreverant and genuinely touching, Separation Anxiety is a novel that celebrates the ‘squeezed generation’; a book filled with heart and humour for anyone fumbling their way towards happiness.
“Separation Anxiety” introduces us to Judy, a 50 – years – old mum, stuck in a failing marriage and a failing career – she has written a popular children’s book that was turned into TV series but now has a writer’s block. Her parents died recently and now her best friend is in the end stage of cancer. Her teenage son is growing up and apart. She and her husband are separated but don’t have enough money for the divorce proceedings so they still live together. Gary, her husband, isn’t able to pursue his music creativity because of panic issues. Just another normal family, right? So it shouldn’t surprise you that one day Judy finds a long forgotten baby sling and starts to carry her Sheltie dog Charlotte in it. Everywhere. Because it feels comforting and right and the dog helps her to alleviate her anxiety.
It’s a story about being able to find happiness in life despite feeling like you’re facing the struggles and challenges all the time. Altogether, it was a rather sad tale, even though it promised to be a book “filled with humour” – for me, it missed this mark, and on the whole I think I simply didn’t get the book. I usually am the first to spot the absurdity in life and laugh at this, but there was simply too much absurdity that was too absurd, making the book impossible to enjoy. I couldn’t warm to the characters, I couldn’t comprehend their actions and the things with carrying a dog in the sling around must have been the worst one. And in the end, well, I found myself skipping huge parts of the story.
I wouldn’t say that the book was filled with humour. There was a little of humour, the dry, everyday kind of humour that doesn’t make you roar with laughter but makes you smile a bit and nod your head in agreement and understanding, the kind of “I’ve been there, I’ve seen this”, the one you can relate to, which is a good thing.
The author is a brilliant observes of the little things in life and she truly brought Judy to life. She truthfully and honestly painted all the ups and downs of a marriage, of all the changes that life brings, of coming to terms with grief, children growing up and becoming invisible, or at least what feels like becoming invisible.
The writing style must be one of the strongest points of this book – it’s quirky, entertaining and sharp. It feels real and down – to – earth, it’s honest and emotional and the author is a great story – teller. I think that in different circumstances, with different novel I could truly enjoy Laura Zigman’s books, as she can also with great insight write about heavier issues, adding some lightness to them. But I simply felt too confused with the plot and the characters’ actions to totally enjoy it.