If you will, imagine this. Life is golden. You’ve written a successful children’s book. That book is adapted into a popular PBS tv series. You’re happily married to a complicated, but loving man. And you have a young child who absolutely adores you.
Then fast-forward, several years. Things have changed. Life has begun to sour. After a couple of attempts, you’ve been unable to re-create your past professional success. Both of your parents have passed away in quick succession. Your best friend has been given a dire diagnosis. Your marriage is in shambles, but you can’t afford to officially end it. And your now teenage son wants nothing to do with you. Judy, the main character in Separation Anxiety, finds herself in this exact situation. While de-cluttering her basement, Judy comes upon an old baby sling, and makes a bizarre decision. In order to assuage her feelings of loneliness and despair, she decides to wear the sling and carry her unsuspecting dog, Charlotte, in it. What begins as a benign practice, strictly relegated to the home, soon becomes a daily obsession. Judy carries the dog everywhere. Her odd behavior leads to raised eyebrows and further fracturing in her personal life.
The incredible thing about Separation Anxiety, is that in spite of the ominous title, and the instances of failure and tragedy, Laura Zigman has created a truly hilarious novel. Literally “laugh out loud” funny. Judy often ends up in these ridiculous scenarios, a la I Love Lucy. It’s like classic slap-stick with a twist (the twist being, the dog in the baby sling.) While reading this novel, I kept thinking I would love to carry a small dog around with me. In difficult moments, when my own anxiety creeps up, it would be nice to have easy access to all of that furry comfort and love. It actually sounds quite delightful.
Separation Anxiety is a funny and poignant story of the importance of connection and being seen without judgment or expectation. A great read.
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