I’ve been married for 7 or 8 years now (both my husband and I regularly forget exactly how long it has been and have to be reminded by friends and family – I count that in our favour for relationship compatibility) and it still never ceases to amaze me how male he is. For instance, when I say things like, ‘y’know I just felt that, well, it was a bit weird, y’know?’, he genuinely doesn’t know what I’m talking about and really needs me to clarify, whereas a female friend will say ‘oh I know, totally agree, it was weird’. And she means it.
Men also gauge relationships differently (mainly by how much sex they’re having) while we, as women, are much more emotionally intuitive (obviously I’m generalising but I think that’s mainly fact) and what Standard Deviation does so brilliantly is actually lead the reader through the workings of a man’s thought process and highlights the differences in how a man (in this case Graham) and a woman (his 2nd wife Aura) think.
The story follows Graham through a small mid life crisis and explores the way he parents his autistic son whilst also trying to figure out Aura, who is a dynamo of a woman, whichever way you look at it. Graham is actually a really lovely husband and father. He’s also a bit of a dick, but not in a mean way – more in a ‘how did this actually happen to me?’ way, so he remains likeable.
Alongside the story of their relationship, this is also a brilliantly funny insight into the challenges and rewards that having a child with special needs can provide. It’s set in New York and the family and their numerous associates feel very American (funnily enough) and sometimes they feel like caricatures of themselves, but actually I think it’s just that they are American and therefore do things differently to the British.
The main crux of the story is how a man and a woman, who are in an imperfect marriage (i.e the only kind), come at life from completely different angles and sometimes, just sometimes, end up in the same place.
It’s a funny, meaty read, with an outcome which I found strangely satisfactory. Being in an imperfect marriage myself, this story helped me remember that although men do think differently to us, it doesn’t have to mean that we can’t understand each other and although loving and being loved is amazing, it doesn’t always guarantee a happily ever after – it is however, a bloody good place to start.