Deana's Reviews > Addition: A Novel

Addition by Toni Jordan
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Jul 05, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: read-kindle, 2012
Read from March 29 to April 08, 2012

This book caught my attention back when it first came out because it is about a woman with an obsessive-compulsive disorder that compels her to count. Count everything. She counts the number of steps it takes her to get from here to there, she counts the number of letters in your name when she meets you (and judges you based on your "number"), she counts the number of poppyseeds in her cake and challenges herself to take that many bites to eat it, she must do things at certain times of day (to the minute). When stressed, she measures her walls, the length of her furniture, her body parts...

I have a mild OCD tendency, though nothing that prevents me from participating in real life. And when I was younger, I loved to count things -- especially the passing dots on the road... at one point I could tell you how many passing dots there were between my house and various other towns that we traveled to ... and would get upset when someone disrupted me and made me lose my count. I like things to be evenly divisible, I like everyone to get an exactly equal share. I like patterns. I eat my M&Ms in a certain order, after lining them up by color.

So I felt like I related to this lady, somehow.

Well, I finally got around to reading this book, it turned out I didn't enjoy it so much. Partly because of the writing style. Another partly because the main character was a bit ... flaky? I mean, aside from her obvious weirdness due to the counting. She didn't seem to relate well to people (then again, the people she got to interact with was her family, who had some issues of their own.

But mostly because it seemed the focus was ... off. Her new boyfriend tries to help her by bringing her to get medicated. And the book is not really about her, it's about whether or not you should be medicated for mental illnesses. And with all the complaining about "feeling like a different person", "not caring about things anymore", how much weight she gained, how she no longer enjoyed sex (which had a much bigger role in this book than I would have expected, both when she did care about sex and when she didn't), and of course, the ultimate decision in the end to not take the medication, it's clear that the author is against it.

Which ... ok, fine, be against it. That's cool. But it does help some people, and writing books like this is going to scare people away from at least trying it out.

Not only that, but she (they?) never do address the REAL problem of the "puppy" that fell down the stairs. And the fact that she LIED about it obviously indicates that she is really NOT over it and could still use some counseling, even if medication really isn't an option for her.

One thing I did find interesting was her reaction to the "germophobes" -- when she was in her group therapy talking about the medication and how it was affecting her, and they put her in with people who were OCD about germs &etc, how she thought they were nuts and they thought she was nuts, but they all thought they (themselves) were perfectly normal and didn't need help. It's all relative.

Anyway, it was an interesting book and made me think, but I'm not sure I like the message/conclusions.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I totally do the lining up by color, eating in order thing with candy. I'm sad that the book was more about the meds vs non-meds debate because otherwise it seems really interesting.

Deana Hehe glad to know I'm not alone!

I did think it was a cool idea for a book. And I -did- like that the main character (and thus the author?) was very much for embracing who you are and not just going on meds or getting therapy to fit in with everyone else. There -were- some really good points to the book, but after a while it was less a story and more ... complaining?

Honestly, I would have even been ok with the conclusion that "medicine wasn't right for HER" (as opposed to everyone) except that she never got help for the real issue even through therapy. The boyfriend comes back, says he was wrong for suggesting she try medication, and she goes back to counting and not being able to hold down the job that she really wanted to do (teaching) but doing mindless data entry from home. I don't call that a good solution.

message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Sounds like I'll be skipping this book. Have you read The Unnamed? You might like it.

Deana Nope, haven't heard of it. I'll look into it, thanks for the suggestion :)

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