Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: The Theory of Opposites

Summary: What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it’s taken away? 

Willa Chandler-Golden's father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn’t entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings - but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn’t think about it too much, is wonderful. 

Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: A two-month break. Two months to see if they can't live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she’s axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own - dares that run counter to her father’s theories of fate, dares that might change everything…but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars. -- Camellia Press

I admit that I was with a little surprised when I looked at my copy of THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES by Allison Winn Scotch. I consider myself a BIG fan of Ms. Winn Scotch's since I've read all of her novels, and I saw that this book was published by Camellia Press instead of a traditional publisher like her other novels. Evidently, Ms. Winn Scotch decided to take a chance and go the self-publishing route on her fifth book. I have to wonder if more successful authors will follow in her path.

But enough about how this book was published and on to the book itself. THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES is sure to be a hit with readers who enjoy Ms. Winn Scotch's novels (or any smart women's lit for that matter.) It tells the story of Willa Chandler-Golden, a thirty something women who seemingly has it all -- a good job and a great husband albeit she is struggling with fertility issues. She's also the daughter of a self-help guru whose bestselling book "Is it Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control" has taken the country by storm asserting that everything happens for a reason and you don't really have the ability to change what happens to you.

When Willa's loses her job and then her husband asks for a two month break, she tries to keep perspective given her father's theories about life. However, her life becomes even more complex when her twelve year old nephew moves in with her and her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook. Willa's best friend Vanessa, who has recently gotten a job with the reality TV show Dare You!, decides that Willa needs to make some drastic changes in her life and even challenge her father's views on fate. As a result, Willa is "forced" to experience life doing the opposite of what she'd normally do and discovers that she, in fact, does have the power to control her own destiny.

I have to say that I really enjoyed THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES. It's hard for me to pick a favorite book of Ms. Winn Scotch's, but this one is certainly right up there. I loved the blend of humor and emotional insight in this novel, and I couldn't help but root for Willa (although I did want to hit her upside the head more than once.) If I have one slight complaint in the story, it was that I had a hard time grasping the intricacies of Willa's father's theories. Generally, I understood that he believed whatever happens, happens, but it didn't totally make sense to me. I am assuming that might have been the point, though!

I think what I most appreciated about THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES is what I was able to walk away with after I finished the book. I know this is going to sound corny, but I'm going to say it anyway. All too often, I think society (myself included) blames everything bad that happens on someone or something else -- kind of a victim mentality. I loved that Willa, despite her strange upbringing and relationship with her father, was able to take control of her own life and set out in a direction that should eventually make her happy. She was forced to get outside of her comfort zone, in more ways than one, and take chances. I think as she was able to accomplish more, her confidence grew and she felt more empowered! I think there's more than one life lesson in Willa's story.

I also really liked the humor in this novel. I remember Ms. Winn Scotch's other novels having some funny situations, but THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES caused me to laugh out loud quite a few times. I loved the satire about our love of reality shows and social media along with some of our quirks about responsibility and ownership. However, I think the humor worked so well in this story because the author was able to contrast it with some pretty serious issues including 9/11, loss, infertility and marital problems.

THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES would make an outstanding book club selection, especially for groups made up entirely of women (well.... for most book clubs, then!) Ms. Winn Scotch has a reading group guide posted on her site with ten terrific questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include marriage, friendship, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, fate, loss, grief, infertility, second chances, instincts, the effects of social media, and happiness.

I adored THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES and I highly recommend it to fans of smart women's fiction!

Thanks to Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.


Beth F said...

I've been hesitant to read this because it's self-published. Maybe I should at least give it a try.

bermudaonion said...

I've never read her books but this one sounds like one I'd like. I think it's time everyone took charge of their own lives.