Standard Deviation (★★★☆☆)

Standard Deviation

Katherine Heiny   *   Fourth Estate   *   June 1, 2017   *   320 Pages

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Graham has been married to his second wife, Audra, for just over a decade. Though he still loves her, he’s also a little overwhelmed (and maybe slightly annoyed) by her uber-outgoing personality. In fact, if he’s being completely honest, he’s bored with the life they’ve created together. His dissatisfaction has him thinking about his past and, specifically, his first wife, Elspeth. Elspeth is the exact opposite of Audra in practically every way, and now Graham is beginning to wonder if he tossed her aside too quickly. Through some gentle nudging on his part, Graham brings Elspeth back into his–and Audra’s–life, and it makes for some interesting (and complicated) interactions.

 *   *   *   *   *

About 50 pages into this book, I considered not finishing it. When was something going to actually happen, for the love? In frustration, I turned to Goodreads to see what other people had thought of the book. I ended up reading a friend’s review that helped put things into perspective. The reviewer mentioned that author Katherine Heiny said in an interview that Standard Deviation actually started out as a bunch of separate short stories. But once Heiny realized all the stories were all about the same characters, she turned it into a novel.

I wish I would have known that when I started reading this book because the story is very character-driven…and incredibly slow. Things don’t happen; personalities develop. So if, like me, you don’t particularly care for any of the characters in here, you’re in for a long, bumpy ride. I mean, I get it. Graham’s distant observations and super dry sense of humor are supposed to entertain me, and I’m supposed to lovingly roll my eyes at Audra’s eccentricities. But I just couldn’t get there. It was all a little too much–over the top and almost forced. I couldn’t connect with Graham or Audra or Elspeth, so watching them develop was like watching paint dry.

I will say that I did enjoy seeing Graham’s relationship with his autistic son deepen and transform throughout the story. That was maybe the one saving grace of the entire book.

Still, though, Standard Deviation just wasn’t for me. I did finally finish it, but it was a slog.

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine. 

9 thoughts

  1. Just the first few lines of your post had me not wanting to even look at the book. The guy’s a creep. Would never touch a book with a character like that. I already wonder how a woman could even look at him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is an irritating character for sure–that laziness and negativity, ugh… That plus the lack of plot had me bored out of my mind. Definitely not one of my favorite books. 😦


        1. I completely agree. I couldn’t even be objective or distant and just accept Graham as a “character” to be observed. Especially since he actually reminds me of someone I know, ugh…


  2. Appreciate your honest review! I just picked this up at the library based on the blurb and because I’m looking for books not in my usual mystery genre, but I have a strong feeling I’d feel the same way you did. I don’t mind character driven stories at all but I need things to happen and I need to connect with someone in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you: I don’t mind character-driven stories either, but I really need to be able to connect with at least one character! Graham was just too dry and whiny for me. And even though I probably would be overwhelmed by someone like super-extrovert Audra in real life, it irritated me that Graham was so critical of her (especially since he’s clearly supposed to be the sympathetic one in this story). Many other reviewers have loved this book (I hope I’m not steering you wrong!), but it just wasn’t for me, unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, thanks for sharing your opinion! Since it’s a library book I’ll give it 20 pages or so and see if I’m feeling characters…I’m in such a picky mood and short on book patience that if it doesn’t grab me in those first 20 pages I’ll have to move on:)

        Liked by 1 person

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