by Karen Brichoux

June 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21199-5
Reviewer Graphic Button New American Library
Trade Paperback

As a child, Wichita Gray has the additional baggage of dealing with her unusual name on top of life's typical trials and tribulations. Her steadfast friend, Jonah or Jonz, is the one person who helps her survive it all. Now, when she is twenty-eight she is wondering how to "break up" with her childhood friend and get her life in order. She does not want to become her Mom, who had stayed in a marriage full of anger and blatant infidelity. Wichita left home at seventeen to escape that situation and being pulled into being a live-in babysitter for a sister twelve years younger who was supposed to save that marriage.

That sister, Geena, now sixteen, shows up at Wichita's small apartment, pregnant; with Dylan, the baby's father, in tow. Wichita can't throw the two teenagers out on the street, but doesn't want to lose her roommate, India, either. India is normal and even does the dishes.

Wichita tries to deal with all her current and past issues is a story that moves seamlessly between the present and past. Separation Anxiety may be deemed "chick-lit", but it addresses issues that are thought provoking for women of all ages. The writing is witty and full of well turned phrases. As an assistant librarian in my "day job" my favorite passage was: "The library is a great place for books by experts. The fiction shelf has shrunk in recent years because everyone demands the popular expert book of the hour. The fiction shelf loses ground every week to books on losing ten pounds in thirty days, books on keeping your man, books on leaving your man, books with twelve-step programs for success, books with eight-step programs to instant popularity, how to kill armpit mushrooms by eating only hamburger for six weeks....And the literature of the world languishes on a shelf in the dim part of the back." Readers of fiction can take this passage with a grain of salt. As long as there are talented writer such as Ms. Brichoux, we can still find hours of entertainment in that "dim" corner in the back.

This is not a book of sizzling romance, but love is the theme that flows throughout. The author also focuses on what it means to be a family and repression of sexuality at the same time it is promoted.

I have not read Ms. Brichoux's debut novel, Coffee and Kung Fu, yet, but I will have to add it to my reading list.

Reviewed in May 2004 by Roberta.

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