Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Standard Deviation

‘Standard Deviation is a marvel’ Kate Atkinson, author of Life After LifeA rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami. Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, this sensational debut will appeal to fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie MooreGraham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She co...

Title:Standard Deviation
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0008105529
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:320 pages

Standard Deviation Reviews

  • Mandy
    May 07, 2017

    I am going to say right now that I loved this book. I loved each and every character, I loved the writing, I loved the ending, I loved everything about it.

    This is the story of Graham and his wife Audra who live with their son Matthew in Manhattan. And that's it. It's just about their everyday lives. And it's wonderful.

    Matthew has Asperger's, which I have to confess I didn't know a whole lot about before reading this. This book deals with the difficulties of being a parent of a child with Asperg

    I am going to say right now that I loved this book. I loved each and every character, I loved the writing, I loved the ending, I loved everything about it.

    This is the story of Graham and his wife Audra who live with their son Matthew in Manhattan. And that's it. It's just about their everyday lives. And it's wonderful.

    Matthew has Asperger's, which I have to confess I didn't know a whole lot about before reading this. This book deals with the difficulties of being a parent of a child with Asperger's, and it's about the joy of having a child and it's about the various problems of just being an adult in today's world.

    This book is gossipy, it's warm, it's just so relevant in the way that these characters interact with each other, and the world that they live in.

    The book is written in third person, but it is all from Graham's point of view. We see everything through Graham's eyes, hear his thoughts, live each day with him. Graham is sixty years old, is quite successful, lives a good life and provides very well for his family. He loves his son and his wife deeply, yet, when his first wife comes back into his life he finds himself thinking of her and helping her. Similarly, when he thinks his wife is having an affair he has doubts about her and also about himself. He is just such a real, human character who the reader can relate to, and warm to, and empathise with. I was very, very impressed with the way the author wrote Graham's role in this book.

    This is most definitely going to be one of my favourite books of the year, probably one of my favourite books of all time. I will read this book over and over I'm sure.

    Highly,highly recommend.

  • Sue
    Apr 25, 2017

    Thanks so much to Harper 4th Estate for the opportunity to read this brilliant book.

    I wasn’t expecting a family/relationship tale to make me laugh so much, yet still deal with some serious themes of individuality and personal interaction. I was transfixed by the characters from beginning to end, and the wonderful Audra in particular, of course. My opinion of her kept shifting - ditsy on the one hand, seemingly completely lacking a social filter, yet on the other hand a consummate multi-tasker an

    Thanks so much to Harper 4th Estate for the opportunity to read this brilliant book.

    I wasn’t expecting a family/relationship tale to make me laugh so much, yet still deal with some serious themes of individuality and personal interaction. I was transfixed by the characters from beginning to end, and the wonderful Audra in particular, of course. My opinion of her kept shifting - ditsy on the one hand, seemingly completely lacking a social filter, yet on the other hand a consummate multi-tasker and an astute networker, usually in the interests of her autistic son. The effect on the family of Matthew’s disability is sensitively handled - especially poignant are Audra and Graham’s hopes and fears for him as he takes tentative steps into independence. Such is the author’s skill that even those characters at the remotest edges of the main action make a vivid impact and the dialogue is spot on. A delightful book and a new favourite author for me - as a result I have ordered a copy of her collection of short stories published a couple of years ago, can’t wait to read it.

  • Paromjit
    May 20, 2017

    Katherine Heiny has written a smart and joyful debut novel about a New York family and their everyday life. It is written through the perspective of Graham, in his early sixties, married to his second wife, the eccentric Audra, a force of nature, whom he adores, and their 10 year old autistic son, Matthew, for whom they will do anything. The title, Standard Deviation, refers to the term used by a doctor in categorising just how far from the norm Matthew is. It might be inferred to apply to Audra

    Katherine Heiny has written a smart and joyful debut novel about a New York family and their everyday life. It is written through the perspective of Graham, in his early sixties, married to his second wife, the eccentric Audra, a force of nature, whom he adores, and their 10 year old autistic son, Matthew, for whom they will do anything. The title, Standard Deviation, refers to the term used by a doctor in categorising just how far from the norm Matthew is. It might be inferred to apply to Audra, her lack of social filter in her conversations with others, and her extraordinary capacity to network, for the benefit of those in her life and strangers but more particularly for Matthew. Graham probably perceives himself as the normal one, although perhaps not, just how normal are any of us?

    It begins with Graham reflecting on just how different the two women he married are, the ice cool, organised Elspeth and the voluble, messy, and warm Audra. This is a story of love, loss, everyday travails, and the moving struggles of bringing up Matthew to experience as normal a childhood as possible. Matthew's obsession and talent with Origami leads to the entry of Clayton, Manny, and other OCD characters into the family, trying the patience of Audra and Graham, but endured stoically. Graham puts up with random strangers and others queuing up to stay in the family home whilst he endeavours to serve up appetising and gourmet meals for all. The re-entry of Elspeth into their lives leads to Graham and Audra double dating and for Graham to ponder whether he is with the right woman as he compares them. Events conspire to place strains on the marriage. We observe the stresses of organising United Nations day, having Papa Stan to stay, Lorelei and Doug leaving and Matthew becoming more independent. The most moving elements outline the challenges and joy of raising Matthew through the years. As Graham puts it, he will tolerate spaghetti marinara because of love.

    This is a wonderful story that comprises of all that is life, love, marriage, and family in New York. Heiny is a gifted comedic writer who provides keen observations and wry insights into the state of the family. The creation and development of the unforgettable Audra is magnificent, she is the star of the novel and will live on in my memories. I loved Matthew, he feels authentic as a character and the condition of autism seems realistic. Graham is extraordinary in his ordinariness, his ability to tolerate and most of all, his capacity to love. A warm, funny, and compelling read with an intimate narrative. Cannot recommend it highly enough. Thanks to HarperCollins 4th Estate for an ARC.

  • Larry H
    May 26, 2017

    It has been a long while since I literally laughed out loud while reading a book, but Katherine Heiny's debut novel,

    , had me cracking up more than a few times. (Nothing quite like sitting at the chiropractor laughing to yourself and having everyone wonder if you need more than your back adjusted...)

    Zany, contemplative, occasionally moving, and tremendously insightful, this is a book about love, family, raising children, temptation, and origami.

    "It had begun to seem to Graham

    It has been a long while since I literally laughed out loud while reading a book, but Katherine Heiny's debut novel,

    , had me cracking up more than a few times. (Nothing quite like sitting at the chiropractor laughing to yourself and having everyone wonder if you need more than your back adjusted...)

    Zany, contemplative, occasionally moving, and tremendously insightful, this is a book about love, family, raising children, temptation, and origami.

    "It had begun to seem to Graham, in this, the twelfth year of his second marriage, that he and his wife lived in parallel universes. And worse, it seemed his universe was lonely and arid, and hers was densely populated with armies of friends and acquaintances and other people he did not know."

    Graham's wife, Audra, is tremendously outgoing, the type of person who can tease a story from a stranger with whom she's waiting in line within a matter of minutes. This is the complete opposite of Graham, who would prefer to blend into his surroundings, and would rather not know the personal peccadilloes of everyone in their apartment building, their son's pediatrician, even his wife's yoga teacher.

    "Audra could converse with a statue. (In fact, once in the ER she had had a long talk with a man who turned out to have had a stroke and could only communicate by blinking.)"

    Audra is vastly different than Graham's first wife, Elspeth, a slightly standoffish lawyer. But Audra has decided that she wants to be friends with Elspeth, so through the sheer force of her personality, she wills Graham to make it happen. For a little while it works, which leads Graham to wonder what his life might have been like if he had stayed married to Elspeth, and wonder what it was that kept their relationship from working. (Other than the fact that he cheated on her with Audra.)

    In addition to Audra's utter vivaciousness, the couple deal with the challenges of raising a son with Asperger's. When Matthew becomes interested in joining an exclusive origami club (seriously), the couple throws themselves into their son's passion as much as the other socially awkward members of the club will allow. And as Matthew navigates the difficulties of adolescent friendship, again, Audra, dragging Graham along for the ride as they try to convince a boy to be friends with Matthew again (even if a little bribery is involved).

    made me laugh quite a bit, but it also made me tear up a few times, and it made me think. Sometimes Audra is almost too wacky to be believed, but yet I know a few women who seem to befriend everyone they meet, even those not interested in speaking. The book is a fascinating, touching, humorous meditation about what love, marriage, and parenthood mean, and how those who don't remain in our lives still have the tendency to affect us.

    I remember wanting to read Heiny's debut story collection,

    , but you know—too many books and not enough time. Given how good this was, how well Heiny balances humor and heart, the quiet moments of life along with the zany ones, I'll definitely need to give her stories a try as well.

    Even if you don't have an Audra, an Elspeth, a Matthew, or a Graham in your life, this book is so worth picking up. I don't think I'll get these characters—or the things Heiny made them say or do—out of my mind anytime soon. And I don't think I mind that one bit.

    See all of my reviews at

    .

  • Diane S ☔
    Jun 25, 2017

    4.5 Love, marriage, infidelity and origami. Well the origami sound like an interesting twist but the others sound like many novels out there, common enough that I would have given this a pass if not for the reviews of a few of my friends on this site. So I started reading this, thinking a truly amusing book doesn't come by that often, so often I end up finding the humor is just corny. This book though is truly amusing, laugh out loud funny in parts and very easy to identify with.

    The second para

    4.5 Love, marriage, infidelity and origami. Well the origami sound like an interesting twist but the others sound like many novels out there, common enough that I would have given this a pass if not for the reviews of a few of my friends on this site. So I started reading this, thinking a truly amusing book doesn't come by that often, so often I end up finding the humor is just corny. This book though is truly amusing, laugh out loud funny in parts and very easy to identify with.

    The second paragraph, " Here they are grocery shopping in Fairway on a Saturday morning, a normal married thing to do together---although, Graham could not help noticing, they were not doing it together. His wife, Audra, spent almost the whole time talking to people she knew---it was like accompanying a visiting dignitary of some sort, or maybe a presidential hopeful---while he did the normal shopping."

    Only the second paragraph and I was in love with this book. You see, my husband is Audra, truly. So then does this make me Graham? Well not exactly, though we do share some thoughts, actually quite a few, such as this one,

    " No one had cancelled Thanksgiving.

    Graham found that remarkable. Although maybe that was the most stressful

    thing about holidays: they couldn't be cancelled. The holidays marched in unwanted and forced themselves upon you like Vikings invading a village, or a wet dog who shakes himself next to you."

    Add this to a son,who is on the higher end of the Asperger's scale, who falls in love with oregami, but changes in surprising ways, the oregami club itself and an ex wife his present wife wants to double date with and you have a surprising, modern day comedy of errors. It's not all surface fluff though, there are some valid insights into marriage and parenting and what we all hope to get from them, plus all we have to put into them. The adjustments we make daily and the changes we see as a result.

    A wonderful summer read, actually a wonderful read for anytime.

  • JanB
    Jun 27, 2017

    5+ stars! I love, love, love this book! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but also heartwarming and quirky. I'm going to have a difficult time explaining just what makes this book so special. My words won't do it justice.

    The story is told exclusively from the POV of Graham, an introverted 50-something man, married to his bubbly, outgoing, missing-a-filter wife, and their son. There’s no point to going into the plot, because there isn’t one. If there had been a plot I think it would have made the readin

    5+ stars! I love, love, love this book! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but also heartwarming and quirky. I'm going to have a difficult time explaining just what makes this book so special. My words won't do it justice.

    The story is told exclusively from the POV of Graham, an introverted 50-something man, married to his bubbly, outgoing, missing-a-filter wife, and their son. There’s no point to going into the plot, because there isn’t one. If there had been a plot I think it would have made the reading less pleasurable.

    What makes this book so fun - and funny - are Graham’s thoughts. He has a dry wit that is absolutely hilarious. It’s a rare author that can pull off this level of humor while also being insightful, thought-provoking, and heartwarming. Graham is spot-on with his observations of life and people. His wife Audra is adorable, warm, sweet and ditzy. She would probably drive me crazy in real life but I loved reading about her. Their son, Matthew is on the Asperger's spectrum and the love and lengths they will go to for their son (Origami Club, anyone?) provides humor while also tugging at the heartstrings.

    I adored all the characters and I was sad to turn the last page. I would happily read more about this family, and hope the author has a sequel in the works. If not, I will have to re-read this one, which would be a pleasure. It will be on my 2017 favorites list for sure, and probably on my all-time-favorites list.

    My recommendation: drop everything and read this book now!

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