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Standard Deviation

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  6,375 Ratings  ·  1,070 Reviews
The celebrated author of Single, Carefree, Mellow, returns with her debut novel--a rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami.
Graham Cavanaugh's second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. Audra is charming and spontaneous and fun, but life with her can be exhausting, constantly interrupted by phone calls, burdened by houseguests,
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Olivia Cawn You could go online on your local libraries website, if the book isn't already there, and place a hold and they will bring it in for you :) Most…moreYou could go online on your local libraries website, if the book isn't already there, and place a hold and they will bring it in for you :) Most libraries should have a website where you can place holds.(less)
Alexandra Unfortunately it is available in libraries. Don't ask me how that is. Sounds like the author has thrown in a bunch of stereotypes, and knows little…moreUnfortunately it is available in libraries. Don't ask me how that is. Sounds like the author has thrown in a bunch of stereotypes, and knows little about inferring mental states, catatonia and all the other marvellous shite associated with AS. It is a work of fiction, but all authors have a degree of responsibility when exercising their creative license And people thought Temple Grandin comparing herself to an animal so to speak is offensive.(less)

Community Reviews

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Larry H
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a long while since I literally laughed out loud while reading a book, but Katherine Heiny's debut novel, Standard Deviation , had me cracking up more than a few times. (Nothing quite like sitting at the chiropractor laughing to yourself and having everyone wonder if you need more than your back adjusted...)

Zany, contemplative, occasionally moving, and tremendously insightful, this is a book about love, family, raising children, temptation, and origami.

"It had begun to seem to Graham
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Elyse
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THERE IS SO MUCH TO LAUGH AT....in this NOVEL! It’s totally priceless!
Line after line after line - there was something really funny - or witty - or both....
at times .... touching with love that was sincerely beautiful.
Other times....I’d be laughing while secretly saying ...”you know, this guy Graham ( narrator), is one smart wise cookie. A few women might wish their partners took a lesson or two from him.

Audra, is a kick ( an awesome created character)....you gotta love a woman who never leave
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Paromjit
Katherine Heiny has written a smart and joyful debut novel about a New York family and their everyday life. It is written through the perspective of Graham, in his early sixties, married to his second wife, the eccentric Audra, a force of nature, whom he adores, and their 10 year old autistic son, Matthew, for whom they will do anything. The title, Standard Deviation, refers to the term used by a doctor in categorising just how far from the norm Matthew is. It might be inferred to apply to Audra ...more
Debbie
4.5, now rounded down (please don't frown) only because I can't remember all the laughs! See update below.

I'm laughing just thinking about this book. The dry humor is priceless! It's full of wry observations of everyday life by a guy named Graham. Passive and entirely boring, Graham is married to the perky motor-mouth Audra, whom he adores. They have a son, Matthew, who has Asperger’s and is obsessed with origami.

Saying that Audra is a motor-mouth is an understatement. She is a compulsive talke
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Diane S ☔
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Love, marriage, infidelity and origami. Well the origami sound like an interesting twist but the others sound like many novels out there, common enough that I would have given this a pass if not for the reviews of a few of my friends on this site. So I started reading this, thinking a truly amusing book doesn't come by that often, so often I end up finding the humor is just corny. This book though is truly amusing, laugh out loud funny in parts and very easy to identify with.

The second para
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Karen
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really funny book about marriage, infidelity, exes, misfits, raising a child with social disabilities. I literally laughed out loud so many times! I think everyone would enjoy this book!
Cheri
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, nyc
4.5 Stars

I’m not sure that I can do justice to this humorous social satire about love and family, marriage, sex and temptations, educating and nurturing children, and origami, which seems somehow appropriate to how all these various things fit together to shape Standard Deviation . I read this off and on in little snippets of time while doing the last week plus details of the wedding preparations, picking up family from the airport, running errands, spending as much time as possible together as
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Carol (Bookaria)
This novel is hilarious and sharply insightful at the same time.

Graham has been married to his second wife, Audra, for over a decade. Audra is the exact opposite of his first wife Elspeth. She (Audra) is blunt, unapologetically honest and talks non-stop. On the other hand, Elspeth is reserved, thoughtful and prudent. 

One day, Elspeth reenters Graham's life and this simple act invites us to explore the meaning of marriage, relationships, adultery, friendship, family and other themes in a fictiona
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PattyMacDotComma
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humour, autism,
4★
“People came to Audra for advice— well, no, not advice, that was the wrong word. They came to her for secrets, for gossip, for connections— for intel, that was the term— about everything. Friends sought her expertise on their job interviews, on their children’s chances of getting into private schools, on marriage counselors, on hairdressers, on au pairs, on restaurants, on shops, on neighborhood watches, on gyms, on doctors, on internet providers. People asked her about local politics and she
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Victoria
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is social satire at its very best--awkward situations turned humorous, characters you grow to love and writing that is brilliant and sarcastic--this was a tremendously entertaining read and one I know I will read again.

We meet two of the characters, Audra and Graham, while grocery shopping and the scene Heiny creates tells us everything we need to know about these people, I was immediately hooked. Audra is one of the most outrageous characters I have read in years and I laughed every time s
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Liz
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a strange book this is. Graham and his second wife, Audra, end up as friends to his first wife and her new significant other. First off, the mere idea of being friends with an ex confounds me. And here, the two wives are SO different. “How opposite they were! How could one man have fallen in love with both of them?” And to be honest, Audra would drive me insane. Constantly talking, often in long winded stories. She’s one of those sorts that knows everyone and seems to know all their intimat ...more
Row
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was like a hostage situation. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen and at the beginning there was anticipation but then I just wanted the bloody thing to be over with.
Bianca
Standard Deviation is not what I expected. I expected it to be light and amusing, and it was occasionally those things, but mostly I found it very life like, therefore not that amusing.

A somewhat despondent, late fifties man, Graham, is married to Audra, his second wife. The two couldn't be more different - Graham is a placid and a somewhat beige kind of man. Even his name suits him (no offence to Grahams out there). He earns a good living as a consultant for medical acquisition in an investment
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Dana
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, favorites
Standard Deviation is a quirky, funny, laugh-out-loud book that is so real, I could relate to every one of these characters! I have a loquacious Audra in my family who I adore, and who is also exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I know a Graham, an Elspeth, and have worked with children like Matthew. I could see a lot of myself in them. It is an eclectic group of people just trying to live life the best they can. It’s about marriage, affairs, death, autism, love and acce ...more
JanB
5+ stars! I love, love, love this book! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but also heartwarming and quirky. I'm going to have a difficult time explaining just what makes this book so special. My words won't do it justice.

The story is told exclusively from the POV of Graham, an introverted 50-something man, married to his bubbly, outgoing, missing-a-filter wife, and their son. There’s no point to going into the plot, because there isn’t one. If there had been a plot I think it would have made the readin
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Rachel Hall
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On occasions genuinely poignant, at others, outrageously humorous, Standard Deviation is the insightful and well-observed debut novel from Katherine Heiny and is a heartfelt tour de force exploring marriage, infidelity, love, friendship, parenting and origami. Despite an absence of significant plot development throughout the novel and a somewhat circuitous narrative adding to the insouciant feel, Standard Deviation is never less than thoroughly engaging and dryly amusing. The reason for this is ...more
Algernon
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018

[5/10]

Elspeth had the deeply reflective air of someone who has just seen a particularly savage wildlife dictionary, and Bentrup had taken on the seedy, shellacked look of a late night convenience store shopper.

I feel about the same way after finishing my first 'novel' by Katherine Heiny: a documentary about the life of the upper crust predators in the Manhattan jungle. I used the slight qualification marks in the definition of the novel because this is more like a stand-up comedy act that goes
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L O R I L I N
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, arc
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 ...more
Dianne
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2017
I really enjoyed this light-hearted and wry character-driven family drama. All of the characters - especially "no filter" Audra, the second wife - jump off the pages. The only character that I felt wasn't fully fleshed out was Graham, the husband. He is the central character and his observations and musings on life and the other characters are keen, funny, and incredibly perceptive - I just felt that he was a bit of a dark horse as a personality. And poor Elspeth, the first wife - her story arc ...more
Mandy
I am going to say right now that I loved this book. I loved each and every character, I loved the writing, I loved the ending, I loved everything about it.
This is the story of Graham and his wife Audra who live with their son Matthew in Manhattan. And that's it. It's just about their everyday lives. And it's wonderful.
Matthew has Asperger's, which I have to confess I didn't know a whole lot about before reading this. This book deals with the difficulties of being a parent of a child with Asperg
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Sue
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Thanks so much to Harper 4th Estate for the opportunity to read this brilliant book.

I wasn’t expecting a family/relationship tale to make me laugh so much, yet still deal with some serious themes of individuality and personal interaction. I was transfixed by the characters from beginning to end, and the wonderful Audra in particular, of course. My opinion of her kept shifting - ditsy on the one hand, seemingly completely lacking a social filter, yet on the other hand a consummate multi-tasker an
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debra
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4-5 *s Diane S and Larry H wrote excellent reviews of this title.

In the beginning- I was a little worried, as Diane was, that the book would not be as amusing as many reviewers stated it would be. This feeling was mostly a function of the fact that-"sometimes Audra is almost too wacky to be believed." This concern soon disappeared, and I did very much enjoy it. OOps-meant to mention that the quote was lifted verbatim from Larry H's review.

Many thanks to Diane and Larry for their wonderful revie
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Mary Lins
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
Prepare to read a GUSHING review of "Standard Deviation", the debut novel of Katherine Heiny. By page 5 I knew I was destined to fall madly in love with Graham Cavanaugh. By page 20 I knew I never wanted the novel to end. By page 50 I realized that one of the reasons I was loving it so much was because it reminded me of an Anne Tyler novel; full of quirky characters, odd plot twists, inappropriate relationships, and a tsunami of humor. I cannot praise this winning recipe enough. If you are readi ...more
Sonja Arlow
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
I loathe reviewing books where I loved certain sections but was left cold by others.

Graham’s been married twice, first to Elspeth, a reserved and polished woman who chooses her words carefully. He left Elspeth to marry Audra, who is the opposite. She goes through life in a whirlwind of unfiltered conversations with everyone she encounters.

The story follows Graham’s musings on his marriages and on raising his special needs son Matthew, who becomes so enamoured with origami that he joins an exclu
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Evelyn Sander
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
The book is about boring people living boring lives. Pretty much all of the characters are vaguely unhappy but not in an interesting way and none of the characters are likeable. Some problems are unavoidable (eg special needs child), but most problems the characters encounter are completely caused by their own stupidity and pigheadedness. And there is absolutely no interesting insight gained or character development. I still gave it two stars, since it was not actually offensive.
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I am a plot person, but if I'm going to read a book without a plot I want it to introduce me to fully-drawn characters with a strong voice and Heiny succeeds with STANDARD DEVIATION.

I read an interview with Heiny from a few years ago where she talks about writing this novel and describes it as a set of short stories that happened to be about the same people that she kept writing until she realized it was actually a novel. If you don't realize that going in, you'll be waiting for plot to kick in
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Megan
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was FABULOUS!!!! It was so incredibly humorous !!! I highly recommend!!
Jaclyn Crupi
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Katherine Heiny is my kind of writer; her words jump off the page and punch you in the gut while making you laugh and think YES EXACTLY! If you haven't read her debut short story collection Single Carefree Mellow please cease reading this and go and read it RIGHT NOW. I'm serious. Get lost. So it's fair to say expectations were high for her debut novel Standard Deviation. And she surpassed them. Hit it out of the ballpark. Knocked my socks off. You get it. Standard Deviation may be another book ...more
Gillian McAllister
Funny and observant; I loved this.
Marianne
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5★s

“It occurred to Graham that here, finally, was the similarity between these two women he’d chosen to marry: they were both totally unrufflable, one out of iciness, the other out of obliviousness.”

Standard Deviation is the second book by American author, Katherine Heiny. Fifty-six-year-old Graham Cavanaugh has been married to Audra Daltry for twelve years. “Audra was not quite beautiful, but her liveliness kept her far away from plain.” She was the reason he split with his first wife, Elspet
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Katherine Heiny's fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Narrative,Glimmer Train, and many other places. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children.
More about Katherine Heiny

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“It occurred to Graham that here, finally, was the similarity between the two women he’d chosen to marry: they were both totally unrufflable, one out of iciness, the other out of obliviousness.” 1 likes
“Fun. Wasn't that really the beauty of childhood? That you measured experiences by how much fun they were, not by how much work or inconvenience or tedious conversation they caused you? Of course you didn't think of the tiresome things if you were a kid, because you didn't have to do them.” 1 likes
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