i like you just fine book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around is described as fiction based on fact. If all the events described in this book really happened all at the same time to the same person, it would take the Empire State Building full of psychologists and therapists to straighten out the life of the lead female character, who is, herself, a therapist.

Relationships, whether familial, romantic or platonic do not survive without communication. It seems so simple, yet it is the most difficult thing to do – let alone do well. And thus, we fail, and our relationships right along with us.

When psychologist Tig Monahan loses her cool during a couple’s therapy session, and tells the husband exactly what she thinks of him, she unknowingly turns her existing world upside down. But wait – maybe it’s better in that position. It can hardly be worse. To start with, she loses her job as therapist, and is faced with finding another job to help pay the bills.

Hallie, her Mom, a noted local veterinarian and strong, caring single mother of two adult daughters, has fallen prey to Alzheimer’s, and can no longer be left by herself in a normal home setting. She’d been widowed early in her pregnancy that resulted in Tig. To Tig’s surprise, her Mom has made long-range plans to move to a nursing home run by a friend of the family, Dr. Jeff Jenson. Tig’s unmarried sister Wendy supports the move, and even helps clear out some of Mom’s stuff from her home, to ease the move.

Surprise! Unmarried Wendy is nearly full-term pregnant, but her long-time swain is not sure of marriage. No problem, she’ll just move in with Tig, especially now that Tig’s long-time lover Pete has gone off to Hawaii on a year-long sabbatical. Sibling rivalry erupts without warning, and secrets don’t stay buried as they should. Tig has always been the stalwart one, the glue to hold them all together. But now she can’t.

Baby Clementine is a colicky baby, and Wendy cannot cope on her own, so she simply leaves the baby with Tig and goes away. But then a new job offer comes out of the blue. Tig (it’s really Tiger Lilly – to go with Wendy) will have a call-in radio program “Is That Fair?” using her therapist training and skills to solve problems.

If only she could solve her own. To her surprise, Mom bonds with the baby, so Tig and her dog Thatcher move into the nursing home. The room is a tad crowded but at least she can sleep there. A neighboring patient Fern helps out with Clem, which pleases Fern’s own son Eric and grandchild Erin Ann, who are still grieving the loss of their wife and mother to cancer. There are enough caring folks around the nursing home that Tig is beginning to think she’ll be okay.

The new radio show takes off – until a piece of advice has an adverse reaction and the caller’s husband accidentally commits suicide. Tig decides she needs a break and makes arrangements to take her vacation and go to Hawaii to visit Pete, to see if they can somehow plan to be together again.

There are just so many examples of poor communication on every level, and even a trained therapist cannot always manage to maintain an open dialogue. In the meantime, Tig and Wendy are still sorting through Mom’s left-behind belongings, and discover mementos that indicate the details they’d always believed about their family history may not be true, after all.

I found this to be a totally captivating book, somewhat reminiscent of the cliff-hanger serials at the movies. Just when you think one problem has been resolved, another one pops up! But life is like that! The characters are life-like and totally different from each other, and the plot is totally unique. Truly, when Tig discovers her own strengths, and begins to realize and act accordingly, you really want to stand up and cheer!

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tyrus Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.