In her new novel, Ann Garvin explores the many facets of loss, and the hope one must summon to fill in the empty spaces.
Tig Monahan’s life is unraveling right before her eyes. She is currently a therapist, but that may end soon. She uncharacteristically lost her cool, and shamed a client in front of his wife. Her boyfriend Pete decides to leave her behind when he moves to Hawaii for a research project. And at the root of everything is her mother’s mental decline.
Tig Monahan tried to imagine what it would be like to lose her mind. Was it like a quick, fully aware, terror-filled slip on an icy sidewalk, or slower, where a tiny skidding sensation goes unnoticed until suddenly you realize all four limbs are in the air and your face is in a ditch?
Tig’s mother Hallie has Alzheimer’s. She’s always been the rock in Tig’s life, but her fierce independence has dissolved into the confines of her illness. Now the tables have turned. Tig has done everything in her power to take care of her mother, but after Hallie accidentally cuts herself while living with Tig, it’s clear she needs full-time care. Tig finally decides to place her mother in an assisted living facility. But will she ever be able to overcome the guilt?
Tig wonders what she’s done to cause the implosion of her universe. Everything she thought she had has dwindled right out of her life. Then, unexpectedly, the wife of the shamed client offers her a job as a radio therapist. Against her better judgment, she accepts the position, and begins her new career.
In the midst of the chaos, her carefree sister Wendy finally returns to town. But she’s keeping a secret, one that will rattle Tig to her core.
Tig now struggles just to get through every day, much less try to figure out where the rest of her life is heading. Will she be able to pull things together? And who will be there to help her?
This novel made me consider the changing roles between parent and child later in life. It also made me realize we should keep our plans flexible enough to change them, because what we think we want, and what we find makes us happy, are sometimes two different things.
I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around is a novel about finding yourself. About discovering who you really are and where you want to go, and having the strength to get there.