Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: Addition by Toni Jordan

I used to love chick lit novels. Then about 10 years ago I got a little tired of them. I narrowed the kinds of chick lit novels that I like a lot: our protagonist is not in her early 20s, doesn't have a bunch of roommates, doesn't have a job in the media with a terrible boss, doesn't have a cute and funny male friend who she doesn't think of "that way" (yet), and does have real problems. Preferably also isn't set in New York or London. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner was the first book I read that really showed me the potential for chick lit to be something more serious, and less fluffy than a lot of the genre that I'd been reading.

I am happy to report that Addition is a chick lit book that I like! Grace has always been fascinated with numbers, but a couple of years ago that fascination crossed into obsession. Grace is in her mid-30s, and a former elementary school teacher who is now on disability in Melbourne, Australia. She has her routine and she really is just going through the motions of life, having decided she's okay with how things are, living in a tiny apartment with just Nikola Tesla's photo for companionship. But one day at the grocery, she discovers to her horror that she has only 9 bananas in her cart instead of 10. So she swipes one out of the basket of the guy behind her. In the parking lot, he confronts her (and offers her an apple.) The next day she goes to her usual cafe and he is there - and there are no free tables so she sits with him. While she finds the flirting with Seamus fun, she also assumes it can't go anywhere because of her issues. And yet he finds her sexy and charming. Naturally though, problems arise.

Grace's problems are of course very, very real. There was an incident two years ago, and also one in her childhood that helped create her OCD problems. Things with Seamus don't go completely fluidly, and also her family isn't perfect. It's great though to see Grace trying to wrest control back from her compulsions, and deciding to face the terrifying truths of her past and her choices, and the bumps along the way. She's a very real and three-dimensional person, with big and serious problems and a real life. Everything doesn't end up perfect, but it does end up good.

Luckily there is in the introduction a short explanation of some differences in a book set in Australia (Celsius, metrics, winter is in July) although there still are a few small Australian details that might be jarring for readers not used to it, but they're nothing you can't skim over and still understand the context. So while you should be prepared for a small amount of cultural differences, they shouldn't cause any problems with comprehension.

Ms. Jordan has crafted a chick lit novel that isn't fluff - that is fun and easy but also serious and realistic. It's a light read but with a real and honest core.
I got this book from the publisher, who understood I would be reading it for myself, and not in exchange for any review, positive or negative.


Anonymous said...

I had another friend who recommended this book to me and I had completely forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! I'll put it on my library list.

Christy said...

I can identify with your feelings on chick lit. I'll have to see if I can look up this book in my library system.