By Camille Pagan
Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab
You, out running errands, bump into a friend: “Hi, how are you?” Friend: “I’m fine! How are you?” You: “Fine!!” We’ve all said this 50 million times!
Liar, liar, pants on fire! Are any of us ever truthful in this situation? Rarely. When you see the title of Camille Pagan’s new book, maybe you’re thinking “another Self Help book?” This book is packed with tips on self realization and honesty about our true feelings; whether it’s a relationship in marriage, between parent-child, or best friends. The great thing is that all of this “self help” comes in the sweet package of a novel titled, “I’m Fine and Neither Are You.”
Sanjay and Penny Ruiz-Kar have created a life for themselves and their two children, Stevie and Miles, in a university town in the Midwest. After Sanjay drops out of medical school to pursue a music/writing career, putting even more pressure on Penny’s development position at the university, the marriage scene is a bit strained-on several levels. Penny loves her husband, loves her kids, and mostly likes her life. So why is she so tired and suddenly admitting to herself that maybe she does “want out?”
Penny’s best friend, Jenny Sweet, seems to have it all together; has even created a blog , Sweet Things, sharing stories and situations about her beautiful, perfect self and perfect life; and making lots of money in the process. Jenny has a successful husband, Matt, though he travels a lot, and a precious, perfectly behaved daughter, Cecily. Maybe it’s all a bit too perfect?
Amidst the typical concerns of keeping her family not only on an even financial keel, but also spreading herself between her demanding job & boss, a not too involved husband, and the children, Penny realizes that she is the “wife, mother, breadwinner, and chief of operations at chez Ruis-Kar!”
When the unthinkable, unbelievable, “this can’t be happening”- happens, the “pretend” lives of Jenny and Mark Sweet and Penny and Sanjay Ruiz-Kar- come to a very unfairy- tale like end. No fairy godmother appears, but lots of “relationship building” begins; enough that you’ll be “perfectly” satisfied by the end.
There are so many life lessons and self- help “realizations” to be shared in this novel. You might very well mimic Penny and Sanjay by taking notes and making a “to do” list. Considering substance abuse, opioid addiction, honesty in marriage and friendships, abandonment and recognizing self worth are ALL covered here; the quicker you begin “I’m Fine and Neither Are You,” the quicker you’ll be more aware and prepared to answer, “How are YOU?”
Reviews Coming Soon:
The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey