Truly Inseparable
by Wanda Y. Thomas
(Genesis Press, $8.95, PG) ISBN 1-88547-899-2
***
Nelson and Shelby Reeves had it all. The college sweethearts married, created a home and family, and maintained successful careers. Nelson and Shelby had it all, but it wasn’t enough to sustain them after their son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“Before they had loved each other to the distraction of all else. Theirs had been a romantic, giddy kind of love, a love that, while it could sustain them through the good times, was not mature enough to handle any kind of crisis, especially the tragedies of life.” Truly Inseparable, Wanda Y. Thomas’ first Genesis novel, is a slice-of-life story about love, loss, redemption, and second chances.

Nelson Lamar Reeves, Jr. was a star basketball player who parlayed his athletic skills into a college scholarship and a career in Denver’s burgeoning cable industry. Nelson had always known what he wanted in life. That included spending that life with coed Shelby Smith. Studious Shelby was as determined as Nelson to carve out a career in the fashion industry. There was no time for a relationship with a campus jock.

Wanda Y. Thomas takes us through the Reeves’ courtship, marriage, professional achievements and the birth of their son, Nelson Lamar Reeves, III. When “Lamar” dies of SIDS, Nelson and Shelby’s perfect marriage is strained. Neither is able to come to grips with the loss. They are unable to comfort each another. In their search for answers, the marriage began to unravel. Unable to cope, they were divorced.

But, as their families and friends all know, Shelby and Nelson still love each other. Nelson begins to emerge from his confusion and tries to reconcile with Shelby. The wounds are still fresh and we watch as they grapple with conflicting feelings of grief and passion.

Wanda Y. Thomas has elected to tell a portion of the story through flashbacks of the courtship and marriage to reinforce her portrayal of the Reeves’ loving relationship. Nelson and Shelby are strong, realistic characters, but the secondary characters enhance the story. Friends and relatives are realistically drawn. They are funny, supportive and comfortable enough to comment on the demise of the marriage, but cannot bring themselves to discuss the loss of the Reeves’ child.

My favorites are the couple’s best friends Manny and J.R. (who definitely need a book of their own), and Nelson Lamar Reeves, Sr. Nelson’s father implores Shelby “and Junior to stop this foolishness and get that D-thing fixed.” After two years, he can neither acknowledge nor accept the divorce of his loved ones.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African-American babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at a rate of 137.5 per 100,000 as compared to 57.9 per 100,000 for white babies. Wanda Y. Thomas has selected an ambitious subject for her first novel. The author shares information about SIDS, grieving parents and support groups without becoming pedantic or maudlin.

In Truly Inseparable, the author presents a compelling story while keeping her eye on the big picture - the relationship between Nelson and Shelby. It’s worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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