Category Archives: Heiny, Katherine

‘Standard Deviation’ by Katherine Heiny

At last I can review this book, which was released on 1 June 2017.

Origami crane

Origami crane (attrib wikipedia)

‘Standard Deviation’ is a thoroughly enjoyable read, but with a serious strain in it.  HarperCollins, on their website, recommend this book to readers of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie Moore, but I would recommend it to lovers of Woody Allen films, especially ‘Manhattan’.  Here you have middle class life in New York in all its quirky glory.

The theme of ‘Standard Deviation’ is being a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, and how it affected just about everything.  Currently, many authors are writing about autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, and rightly so, as this condition is one of the big challenges of our age.   (You will recall my review of K A Hitchins’ The Girl at the End of the Road.)  More than 700,000 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum* – officially, that is.  I am sure that there are many others, especially adults, who remain undiagnosed.   However, the plot rambled.  Characters moved in and out of it.  Mc Graham’s involvement with his first wife and the cluelessness of his secretary added metropolitan charm and atmosphere (again, I’m thrown back to Woody Allen) but little else.   Subplots should add something to the main plot and these didn’t.

The strongest character in this novel is Audra (mc’s second wife and mother of his Asperger’s boy, Matthew).   The author, through mc, asserts that Asperger’s Syndrome being hereditary, at least one parent of an Asperger’s child is likely to display Aspergic tendencies.  Audra certainly did, as evidenced by her incessant talking, inability to understand when the person she was talking to was interested, and her many inappropriate comments. Audra was the strongest character in the book by far and what kept me reading.

This title may be purchased from HarperCollins.

*http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/myths-facts-stats.aspx (accessed 27 April 2017).

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