Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: "Addition" Toni Jordan

From the Publisher's Website:

" Everything counts . . .

Grace Lisa Vandenburg orders her world with numbers: how many bananas she buys, how many steps she takes to the café, where she chooses to sit, how many poppy seeds are in her daily piece of orange cake. Every morning she uses 100 strokes to brush her hair, 160 strokes to brush her teeth. She remembers the day she started to count, how she used numbers to organize her adolescence, her career, even the men she dated. But something went wrong. Grace used to be a teacher, but now she's surviving on disability checks. According to the parents of one of her former students, "she's mad."

Most people don't understand that numbers rule, not just the world in a macro way but their world, their own world. Their lives. They don't really understand that everything and everybody are connected by a mathematical formula. Counting is what defines us . . . the only thing that gives our lives meaning is the knowledge that eventually we all will die. That's what makes each minute important. Without the ability to count our days, our hours, our loved ones . . . there's no meaning. Our lives would have no meaning. Without counting, our lives are unexamined. Not valued. Not precious. This consciousness, this ability to rejoice when we gain something and grieve when we lose something—this is what separates us from other animals. Counting, adding, measuring, timing. It's what makes us human.

Grace's father is dead and her mother is a mystery to her. Her sister wants to sympathize but she really doesn't understand. Only Hilary, her favorite niece, connects with her. And Grace can only connect with Nikola Tesla, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century inventor whose portrait sits on her bedside table and who rescues her in her dreams. Then one day all the tables at her regular café are full, and as she hesitates in the doorway a stranger—Seamus Joseph O'Reilly (19 letters in his name, just like Grace's)—invites her to sit with him. Grace is not the least bit sentimental. But she understands that no matter how organized you are, how many systems you put in place, you can't plan for people. They are unpredictable and full of possibilities—like life itself, a series of maybes and what-ifs.

And suddenly, Grace may be about to lose count of the number of ways she can fall in love."

My Review:

"Addition" was hard to put down. Meticulously researched (did you ever want to know the average span in between your fingers in millimetres?) and well-written, I felt connected to Grace Vandenburg and wanted her to come to terms with her addiction to addition. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Grace and we find out about her precise rituals; we sense her panic when a ritual remains undone. We are with her when she meets Seamus, a potential new boyfriend (the first in a long time!), someone who seems to be able to deal with Grace's peculiarities. When Grace decides to seek help for her problem I hoped that whatever happened, she would find happiness. This book was about being true to yourself no matter the circumstances and it was also about accepting your personal quirks as something to be valued, rather than feared.

*SPOILER* My only complaint was that the way the book was written may discourage those with similar, often debilitating conditions, to pursue medical help. I certainly wouldn't want someone who is comfortable with their condition to feel that they need to seek help in order to become part of the status quo, but I would want someone who is unhappy with how things are for them to feel free to pursue professional help in order to improve their quality of life.

Other that that, a highly enjoyable, often eye-opening book that will keep you reading all the way to the last page. Browse Inside the book to find out more.


  1. Thanks for the review...this book sounds intriguing!

  2. Oh wow Jonita what a lovely review. I too have read Toni Jordan’s ‘Addition’ and found the experience a wonderfully entertaining journey lined with quirky insight. I’m sure I have a better understanding of the inner working of people around me who I think I know and the ones I definitely don’t. I even wonder about myself quite a lot; I do seem to keep making an effort to match pegs while hanging out the washing. -------- Eric