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Five Things I Can't Live Without    by Holly Shumas order for
Five Things I Can't Live Without
by Holly Shumas
Order:  USA  Can
5 Spot, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Lori Waddington

Twenty-nine year old Nora has a full life. She is crazy about her boyfriend Dan, she has a great group of friends, and she has a good job at an animal shelter, where she posts information of adoptable animals on the shelter's website. However, Nora suffers from a meta-life, defined here as 'overthinking and second-guessing to the point of self-sabotage.' When the simple act of opening a kitchen window sends her into a full-fledged anxiety attack, Nora decides to go a 'full 24 hours without self-investigation,' and proceeds to quit her job the very next day.

Finding herself unemployed and at loose ends, Nora helps a close friend rewrite her Internet dating profile. Her friend is thrilled with the results and suggests to Nora that she try to make a career out of it. Since Nora has always dreamed of being a writer, she decides to give it a try, and soon discovers that there are actually people who are more than willing to pay for her to write (or rewrite) their Internet dating profiles. But even when she starts to feel that her business venture and relationship with Dan are going well, Nora's 'overthinking and second-guessing' kicks in, causing her to take a good hard look at her life (and to sign herself and Dan up for Salsa lessons.)

Holly Shumas' debut novel, Five Things I Can't Live Without, is a delightful read. Nora's character is so funny and quirky that I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout this book. I especially enjoyed Nora's clients, my favorite being a 6'7" plant pathologist who is 'fascinated by parasitic nematodes.' Whether you live near a beach or just a subdivision pool, make sure to take along a copy of Five Things I Can't Live Without.

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