Book Review: Standard Deviation

Standard Deviation review

They do say opposites attract, don’t they? Maybe they are right. But do they stick together when the roof falls? No, I am not talking about the teenage crushes where the hot headed guy falls for the shy bookstore sales girl. I am talking about older ones, the real life adults. Do they genuinely like each other’s quirky characteristics or are they gritting their life through?

Book Name: Standard Deviation
Author:  Katherine Heiny
Genre: Fiction – Drama
Characters:  Graham, Audra and Mathew Cavanaugh, Elspeth Osbourne, Bitsy, Clayton.
Setting: The USA
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author and Netgalley for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The narration follows Graham’s voice through his married life with Audra, a vivacious busybody who is 15 younger to him. While Graham is a despondent middle aged man, Audra is one of those outspoken women who puts you at ease as soon as you meet her and then becomes your friend for life. Her life is no wonder full of ‘friends, acquaintances and other people that Graham never knew.’ They have a 10-year old son Mathew who has Asperger’s and is obsessed with origami. Their life has no dearth for adventure between arranging play dates for Mathew and hosting house guests who were on a break from their spouses.

Standard Deviation

We follow their lives through weddings, deaths, infidelity and United Nation days. Graham feels out of place in the grand plans of Audra and her friends that he seeks recluse in his cold, emotion free first wife, Elspeth. Audra wants to be friends with her as well. Being with both the women he had loved Graham realizes the vast differences between them. What does a man need – the ever glowing sunshine or the cool detachment? Read on Standard Deviation to find out.

If you are looking for a storyline with twists and thrill, you are in for a sore disappointment. In fact, there is no plot. We get a wry, whimsical glimpse into their life. It is often funny, not in the way that would make you laugh out loud (though I did once or twice) but that makes you chuckle.

Review Standard DeviationMaybe we had had too many books with the female point of view lately that it was so refreshing to hear a male voice talking about his view of life. Graham’s thoughts about parenthood and infidelity would be easier to relate as they are not accusative, but in a funny quirky manner.

Some may find the pace of the book to be slow and drag, especially in the middle where the narrative becomes too generic that probably spoke of the satirical opinions of the author rather than Graham. But it again gains momentum towards the end, which was rather abrupt.

If you loved books like I Feel Bad About My Neck or High Fidelity, grab this satire Standard Deviation and spend your afternoon chuckling with delight.


  1. Now I’m going to be honest and say that if I had seen this in the store I probably would’ve purchased it because the cover is interesting and the title catches my eye. But after hearing you say it has no plot…I’m immediately wanting to turn away from the book! Thank you for the honest review! I look forward to reading more of your reviews!


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