“Please come with me. Write this book. Tell this story. At the very least, we might change our lives.”
I can feel my own heart, just like the frozen one on the pedestal in front of me, come to life, beating with anxiety, beating with fear, beating from the utter terror of taking a leap that might change everything.
“I like my life,” I say finally.
“Actually,” she reminds me, “you sort of don’t.”
(from The Theory of Opposites)
Allison Winn Scotch’s latest novel, The Theory of Opposites, is a whirlwind journey through two months in the crazy life of Willa Chandler-Golden. Willa, whose father insisted she be named William after his brother despite being born a girl, has grown up living — though not fully believing — her father’s beliefs that there are no coincidences in life and that people do not have free will. She has always gone with the flow, followed whatever course is easiest, because whatever will be will be, according to her father’s bestselling self-help book, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control.
Willa believes she and Shawn have a happy marriage with no arguments, and she takes her infertility issues mostly in stride. But then she loses her job at the ad agency because she can’t make adult diapers sexy, her ex-boyfriend friends her on Facebook, and she obsesses over a wine bar receipt she finds in Shawn’s wallet dated from a night when he was supposed to be playing a pick-up game with his friends. Having been taught that whatever is meant to be will happen and whatever happens is meant to be, Willa is paralyzed when Shawn suggests a two-month break from their marriage.
Willa reluctantly goes alone with her best friend Vanessa’s plan for Willa to write her own map for life, change her master life plan, and prove that there are some things in life she can control. As part of the project, Willa is forced to deliberately choose the hard way over the easy way every time. She must confront her feelings for Shawn and the reason she and Theo broke up so many years ago, answer important life questions for her 12-year-old nephew when she doesn’t have her own life under control, and navigate the latest upheavals in her dysfunctional family.
In The Theory of Opposites, Scotch blends humor with more heavy topics, like infidelity, infertility, and a whole lot of regret. I liked Willa from the very first page. Her first-person viewpoint is so fresh and honest, and even while I couldn’t relate to her specific circumstances, I could understand her. However, the limitation in the first-person point of view is that readers don’t really get a chance to know Shawn and Theo aside from the superficial, and it was easy to get lost in all the conflicting and sometimes confusing philosophies bandied about by her father and Vanessa. (Of course, that also helps readers understand why Willa was so confused about everything.)
The Theory of Opposites is a quick read about finding oneself among the chaos of life and discovering you had the strength to make the tough decisions and reach out for what you wanted all along. It’s about taking chances and not letting predictability, reliability, and safety rule the choices of your heart. Willa’s family is over-the-top and unbelievable, but Scotch made me believe them. It’s easy to get lost in a novel when it reads like an old friend confiding in you. Scotch is a talented storyteller with a knack for creating memorable characters, and despite Willa’s crazy family and her misguided logic, there is plenty of wisdom to be found within her story.
Disclosure: I received The Theory of Opposites from Get Red PR for review.
© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.