Sunday, October 16, 2011

Addition by Toni Jordan

Addition (William Morrow, 2008) by Toni Jordan takes the reader deep into the mind and soul of Grace Lisa Vandenburg, places very full of numbers, formulas and theories. No, she is not a mathematician. She has an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and although she had been a working member of society, she lost her teaching job after a playground breakdown. Her carefully ordered world involves a strict schedule. Grace shops, eats, and sleeps by the clock and calendar. She calms herself by counting bristles on toothbrushes, seeds on cake and letters in names. She graphs the weather in her Melbourne, Australia locale. Her favorite numbers involve sets of 10. Other than weekly phone calls with her mother, her sister and favorite niece, Grace has little connection to people. She keeps a photo of inventor Nikola Tesla on her bedside table; indeed her mind is a catalog of facts about him. Her adoration for him is safe and sustaining.

Talk about a quirky character! Grace is funny and self-deprecating. It was unnerving at first to spend time in her world. I knew something would come along to challenge her. She was obviously bright, and she had settled into an existence that seemed way too careful and dull. She hasn't had a date in more than two years when she meets an Irish fellow named Seamus Joseph O'Reilly in her favorite cafe. She manages to fall into his arms, and thus her careful world takes on some new dimensions. With the addition of a boyfriend, will Grace become more whole and/or "normal" (whatever that is...)? When Seamus begins to untangle the story of her childhood, trying to get at the root of her obsessive counting, Grace tells a half-truth. Then she tries mightily to rehabilitate herself to please him. Of course, the arc of their relationship has it ups and downs. So I'll say no more about how the plot develops. Grace is one character I'll not soon forget. Addition is a touching, unconventional romantic comedy I'm glad I spent a few hours reading.

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