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.
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.
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.
Maybe 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.
I confess. I picked the book only for the intriguing title, and as it was long since I read a teen romance, I was fully geared up to read the e-book.
In fact, again I read this book under the bed covers after midnight. Aah, don’t worry it is yet another short book so I wasn’t straining much, you overprotective souls out there. Oh never mind that I was watching the television until midnight and then went on to read this book. And I continued to read the rest of the book during my train commute.
Quite out of context, I am almost sure that my co passengers would have been thinking I was out of my mind while I was grinning while reading few passages from this book. And right now when I am writing, no.. texting the review in my mobile they are actually thinking that I am messaging ‘someone’. I can practically hear the voices in their minds and I know that stare. Mission accomplished – given some spicy food for their thoughts. Back to the review, now.
Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Genre: Fiction – Romance – Young Adult
Main Characters: Hadley Sullivan, Oliver, The Professor / Dad / Mr. Sullivan, Charlotte, Violet.
Setting: New York, The USA, London, England, The UK
Claustrophobic Hadley is flying to England to attend her dad’s wedding, to a woman she has never met. She arrives at the airport disinterested, only to miss the flight by four minutes. She now has to fly on the next flight – three hours later, to reach the wedding just at the nick of the time. At the airport she meets Oliver, a tall messy haired boy who helps her with her luggage and provides company throughout the journey. There happens the inevitable – love at first sight!
But she has a wedding to attend which means she has to bid farewell to him. How does she get through the wedding? Did she ever meet Oliver again? Read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to know more.
I can understand what a good story this could have been, with such a good plot. Yeah I know this isn’t a plausible situation, but so is love at first gasp I know I broke many a hearts here! Of course, this is a real interesting situation, if it happens day dreams. Oh, well, back to you.
One major thing that was bothering me was the logic in the dad – daughter relationship. Here is the backdrop: Her dad goes to Oxford accepting a new short term job and her mom cannot join him as she has a shop to look after. He was to be back by Christmas.
But it does not happen, as her mom announces they were getting divorced, and is emotionally broken for a while. She is again back on the dating scenario, dating a dentist who is all intent to marry her which she has not accepted yet. Amidst all this, Hadley finds out during a Dad – daughter ski trip that there is another woman in his life, and she shuts him out of her life. Her resentment increases as they both decide to marry and want her to be their bridesmaid.
Okay I get the idea that she is hurt and divorce is tough, but how was this marriage all unfair only to Hadley? And how did it become about her? I mean her mom has moved on and he is genuinely happy, as she says, then what is HER problem? I mean she is okay with her mom dating somebody else but not her dad? Where in the world did the notion came from that he left them for Charlotte?
I dont think it was probable (at least in my mind) for the “Professor” to leave a perfectly happy family in America for months, move to England, fall in love and then announce a divorce over phone call. I mean her mom would have known and there could have been domestic issues and they decided to take a break or something, though nothing of that sort was said to Hadley (or us).
But seriously, did she run away from her Dad’s wedding to search for a boy in an unknown country in a wedding dress without much cash and with her claustrophobia? And then comes back to the wedding, decides to get absorbed in her own boy trouble and her dad plays her shrink? All for an unknown boy (pfftt.. love at first sight)? All on her Dad’s Wedding day, how much ever she might hate it?
Plot was good, execution not so good. I mean I didn’t feel anything during the story. You know that mushy mushy feeling you are supposed to get reading the romance, oh well forget it.
Did I want to know what happens next? hmm no.
Did I hate it? no.
Did I feel sleepy? no.
In fact, only word I could think of is – bland. By the way, have I read any novel that is fully written in simple present? I don’t know for sure but I felt weird sometimes seeing sentences like
“Hadley edges her way toward the windows and surveys the rows of drab gray chairs, most of them occupied and the rest sprouting yellow stuffing at their seams like well-loved teddy bears. She props her backpack on top of her carry-on suitcase and digs for her cell phone, then scrolls through the contacts for her dad’s number.”
Saying that I don’t want to skip quoting some lines I really liked from the book. Actually there were quite a few lines I liked, mostly because they were simple. The most simple things are the closest to the heart, right? So here are a few:
Quotes I loved:
“In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.”
“It didn’t help that she was right; when had that ever made anything better? “
“The only time it doesn’t help to imagine the sky is when you’re thirty thousand feet in the air with nowhere to go but down.”
“She’s spent the past few weeks secretly wishing this very thing might happen, though admittedly, her imagined scenarios have been a bit more dramatic: a massive airline strike; an epic hailstorm; an immobilizing case of the flu, or even the measles, that would prevent her from flying”
Well, I have done this innumerable times, in fact every Monday – oh the Monday Blues! Wont there be a public transport strike? A power break down for the whole city? Or at least a small size accident – not to me, to some third person and I can run to help them – I know I know I am not the world’s best person – on Monday Mornings,
“Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”
” But the truth was, they spent so much time not talking about Mom’s absence that it had become the only thing either of them could think about.”
“It’s one thing to run away when someone’s chasing you.”
“There’s a star in the sky that refuses to stay put, and Hadley realizes it’s actually a plane, that just last night, that star was them.”
“There’s a formula for how long it takes to get over someone, that it’s half as long as the time you’ve been together.”
“People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else”
“Did you know that people who meet at least three different times within twenty-four hour period are ninety-eight percent more likely to meet again?”
First things first, that is a real cute, intriguing title. Next, as I have already said, the plot was actually good. But for even such a short book, I found it a little dragging. A YA novel with a love at first sight concept, you could actually make a lot of things happen, but nothing really happens. And best of all, even after the 300 odd pages I really did not know nor feel anything about the characters, come on at least you could have made me feel frustrated or irritated (that is actually easier).
I probably was disconnected with Hadley as she was too shallow and self absorbed for me, like most of the teenagers in the YA world. Nor with Oliver. He was quirky and witty but that was it. It is a cute plot with a non racy story (oh all that was happening within 24 hours, yet too slow for me) and superficial character building.
Have you read this book? Do you find it annoying when characters are so cardboard cut? Do you agree that you find it more in YA romance than others? Let us chat.
Sideney Sheldon is one of my favorite authors of all time and I have read almost all his books. And Bloodline was one of my first ‘grown – up’ book, which I re-read again after many years. Does it have the old charm or do I misremember its awesomeness? Let us find out!
Author: Sidney Sheldon
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Characters: Elizabeth Roffe, Rhys William
Setting: New York, The USA
Elizabeth, the heiress & the future of Roffe & sons – a pharmaceutical MNC, not only has to face her father’s sudden and untimely death but also make a decision regarding company’s public sale of its shares.
Things are more complicated as Sam, her dad had not left a successor to his reign. Hence she takes her position and almost gives in to the pressures of her cousins and their families, viz.,
- Walter Gassner married to Anna Roffe, Berlin
- Ivo Palazzi, Rome married to Simonetta Roffe
- Charles Martel, Buenos Aires, married with Helen Roffe
- Sir Alec Nicholas, London
Each of her cousin has his/ her pressing needs for money and can have an use for his/her billions locked in the form of shares of Roffe & Sons. But Sam was strong against going public and now he is dead.
Now Liz agrees with her Dad, as someone attempt to kill her. Is it her father’s ex secretary and her secret crush or one of her family members?
Bottom-line: Yet another strong female protagonist from Sidney Sheldon. My first ever “grown up” book, but even when I re-read it recently I could feel the pace of the story. Not as fascinating as the first time (I was 12 that time, everything could have been fascinating of course), several things fell flat, yet could not keep the book down aside.
Worth the re-reading 🙂
Have you read this one? What is your favorite Sidney Sheldon? Let me know.