Saturday, December 22, 2018

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny was our library book club pick this month. The response from the group reflected the response in my own household: my husband disliked the book and I laughed my way through it.

The characters Graham and Audra are hilarious, Graham so staid and passive and Audra so extroverted as to be an embarrassment to her husband. Audra is oblivious to the consequences of her impulsive decisions, leading to many awkward moments of great comedy. Their son Matthew has Asperger's syndrome and enjoys origami. His parents support his interest and help him become involved with an origami group full of people as unique. Audra fosters Graham's relationship with his ex, the perfectionist ice queen Elspeth, even though Audra was the cause of their break-up.

All kinds of people are invited by Audra into their lives, adding to the discord and the source of much laughter for readers. Favorite scenes include a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner and Audra's discussion with a priest about God and the stock market.

Most of the group enjoyed the novel but thought it was "forgettable," perhaps a three-star read. We did appreciate the insights into Asperger's and Graham's coming to terms with his son's condition.

I enjoyed the novel as a comedy of manners and as an exploration of marriage and parenting. And it made me laugh, page after page.

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