Addition

Addition

by Toni Jordan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061582585
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/02/2010
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 881,688
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Toni Jordan has worked as a sales assistant, molecular biologist, quality control chemist, and marketing manager. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she works as a freelance copywriter.

Read an Excerpt

Addition

Chapter One

It all counts.

Not long after the accident, I turned at the gate on my way to school one morning and looked back at the front stairs. There were only 10...normal-looking gray concrete, not like the 22 treacherous wooden steps at the back. The front stairs had a small set of lines and some gray sand set in the middle so you wouldn't slip in bad weather. Somehow it seemed wrong to have walked down them unawares. I felt bad about it. Ungrateful to those stairs that had borne my weight uncomplaining for all of my 8 years. I walked back to the stairs and climbed to the top. Then I started down again but this time I counted each one. There. 10.

The day went on but I couldn't stop thinking about those 10 stairs. Not obsessing. Nothing that kept me from schoolwork or skipping or talking, but a gentle teasing like the way your tongue is drawn to a loose front tooth. On the way home it seemed natural to count my steps from the school gate, down the path, over the footpath, across the road, along the street at the bottom of the hill, across another road, up the hill and then into our yard: 2,827.

A lot of steps for so short a distance, but I was smaller then. I'd like to do that walk again now that I'm 172 centimeters instead of 120, and I might one day. I can only remember lying in bed at the end of that first day, triumphant. I had measured the dimensions of my world, and I knew them, and now no one could change them.

Unlike the weather in Melbourne. 36 degrees and sunny; 38 and the same; 36 and the same; 12 and raining so hard I risk concussion getting the mail. This January has been like that, so far. When I was a kid Icould hardly stand it. From the age of 8 I graphed each day's max and min from the newspapers, desperate for a pattern.

In time, counting became the scaffolding of my life. What's the best way to stop nonchalantly, so as not to arouse suspicion should someone interrupt? It's okay to stop, it doesn't break the rules...the numbers are patient and will wait, provided you don't forget where you are up to or take an extra pace. But whatever you do, don't lose count or you'll have to start again. It's hard to stop the involuntary twitching, though.

"Grace, why are your fingers moving like that?"

"Like what?"

Funny how I sensed this wasn't something to be discussed with other people, even when I was 8.

The numbers were a secret that belonged only to me. Some kids didn't even know the length of the school or their house, much less the number of letters in their own name. I am a 19: Grace Lisa Vandenburg. Jill is a 20: Jill Stella Vandenburg, one more than me despite being three years younger. My mother is a 22: Marjorie Anne Vandenburg. My father was a 19 too: James Clay Vandenburg.

10s began to resonate. Why do things almost always end in zeros? Crossing a road was 30. From the front fence to the shop was 870. Was I subconsciously decimalizing my count? Did I stop at the shop's doormat, rather than the door, so it would end in a zero?

Zeros. 10s. Fingers, toes. The way we name the numbers, in blocks. One day in math we learned rounding, changing a number to the nearest one divisible by 10. I asked Mrs. Doyle the word for moving a number to the nearest divisible by 7. She didn't know what I meant.

Why are clocks so obviously wrong? Counting on a base of 60 is a pagan tendency. Why do people tolerate it?

By the time I finished high school I knew about the digital system and its Hindu-Arabic history and the role of Fibonacci in gaining support for base 10 in 1202. There's still anger out there in cyberspace...flat-earthers upset that base 10 was chosen over base 12, which they consider purer: easy to halve and quarter, the number of the months and of the apostles. But to me it's about the fingers...it's the way the body's been designed. No debate.

Realizing the world was driven by 10s was a beautiful turning point, like someone had given me the key. When tidying my room, I started picking up 10 things. 10 things an hour, 10 things a day. 10 brushes of my hair. 10 grapes from the bunch for a little lunch. 10 pages of my book to read before sleep.?10 peas to eat. 10 socks to fold. 10 minutes to shower. 10. Now I could see not just the dimensions of my world, but the size and shape of everything in it. Defined, clear and in its place.

My Barbie Country Camper was out; my Cuisenaire rods were in. On the outside they don't look like much. Green plastic box; inside, bits of wood, cut and smoothed, in various sizes and colors. Invented by Georges Cuisenaire, my second-favorite inventor, while he was looking for a way to make math easier for children. I love them, especially the colors. Each rod has a number that corresponds to its length, and each number is a different color. For years into my adult life, numbers were also colors. White was 1. Red was 2. Light green was 3. Pink (a hot, sticky pink) was 4. Yellow was 5. Dark green was 6. Black was 7. Brown was 8. Blue was 9. Orange (although I'd always thought of it as tan, a small vowel shift) was 10.

Addition. Copyright © by Toni Jordan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Emily Giffin

“A delight of a debut novel. Toni Jordan has created an unforgettable heroine, charming, vulnerable and real.”

Marisa de los Santos

“In her insistence on holding fast to the parts of herself she likes best, Grace challenges concepts of illness and health, brokenness and wholeness. I love her for this, and for the way she aches, bristles, back talks, and shines her way toward an off-kilter equilibrium, a ramshackle splendor.”

Imogen Stubbs

“Grace is a quirky, funny and endearing character. Very entertaining.”

Customer Reviews

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Addition 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 14 days ago
“Addition” is a very funny novel. It’s also witty and clever and moving. It is insightful about OCD and also about life in general. “Addition” made me laugh (a lot, out loud), it made me cry, and it made me think. Oh, and just to round things off nicely, there were a couple of hot sex scenes. I was so sorry to reach the end that I read it again, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long before Toni Jordan writes another novel.
Koda More than 1 year ago
The pace in this quirky story is excellent. Counting, numbers, wittly retorts, love--all bouncing around through dear Grace's OCD head. While tempting to read in one sitting, try two--or three--as Toni Jordan's talent as a humorist needs to be savored. Think Fannie Flagg with a calcuator.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a read-the-whole-book-in-one-night kind of page-turner for me, which is rare. The author has managed to capture the combined sense of security and emprisonment of a compulsive disorder. The lighter sides (a la chicklit) help keep the novel from getting too weighty. Apart from a few turns of phrase, the style is captivating and clear. This is a book I will definitely re-read.
mollybee More than 1 year ago
I read ALOT but very seldom am moved to write a review...can't help expressing myself about this clever, yet poignant creation from Toni Jordan...written in first person by an intelligent woman who happens to have a weird obsession with 'counting'...but because the reader is in her head, the exact seriousness of this malady is often overlooked in favor of her unique slant on getting through everyday life...I found it intriguing, funny, eye-opening (at times cringe-worthy) yet overall, an amazingly entertaining trip toward acceptance and love!!!
charlottesweb93 More than 1 year ago
Addition is a funny, intelligent book. The razor sharp wit is so dry it may be missed by the untrained eye. But make no mistake, it is there. Compromise is a part of relationships, it is a part of love. But what happens when the compromises we make turn us into someone completely different? Toni Jordan's book takes you into Grace's world. And what happens when Grace decides that even true love is not worth the compromises asked of her.

This is a do not miss book & I can't wait to discuss it with others once it hits the shelves!
harstan More than 1 year ago
It started when she was eight years old and counted the ten steps in front of her family house. Over the next two plus decades schoolteacher Grace Lisa Vandenberg who is a nineteen counts everything to include steps to and from work, the number of poppyseeds on her morning orange cake and the letters in her family¿s full names. She lives life by the numbers as she has even assigned numbers to colors. Ten is her magic number unlike her hero the inventor Nicola Tesla who worshipped three.

However, her fine tuned world falls apart starting with swiping a banana from the shopper behind her so her bunch will be ten not nine; thus Seamus Joseph O¿Reilly, also a nineteen, meets the banana thief. He in turn steals her morning spot at the café, but asks her to have breakfast with him. Years of orange cake and seed counting turn into the trauma of pancakes, which seems like a miscalculation as computing syrup is somewhat limiting, but she likes the fact that they are both nineteen¿s.

Counting numbers rules how Grace lives with ten being perfect because of the number of fingers and toes. She obviously suffers from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, but she functions quite nicely and is amusing when she discusses her affliction and how she hides it from others; a lesson learned at eight years old when her fingers were working calculations in public. Although at times her obsessions, for instance her hero Tesla, can become a bit overbearing, this deep look at a person with OCD is a well written character study with droll chick-lit asides.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this good!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very pleasant to read novel. 
Crytal More than 1 year ago
I am a numbers girl. I love the thought of them, the processes they go through, everything. So I figured that &quot;Addition&quot; would be right up my alley. And it was. At least it was at first.  Grace is a counter. Counts everything, from steps to the number of strokes per tooth with her toothbrush and the number of bites she takes to the number of groceries she buys. In the book, it was mentioned that she is Obsessive-Compulsive. It didn't seem that way to me, I thought she was leaning more towards someone on the Autism spectrum. Either way, she was portrayed as someone who needed fixing. And this is where the book lost me. Grace meets a boy and he good-intentionally 'helps' her overcome her 'problems.' The romance was sweet and I liked the characters, but for me, Grace's changes happened way to fast and way too easily for someone with her depth of diagnoses. The saving grace of the story was main character Grace's niece Larry. She stole the show for me. I loved the interactions between the two, it always felt real. None of Grace's other relationships had that same feeling. I would love to read more about either one of these two, as long as they are together. While I didn't love this book, the writing was pretty amazing. There was one particular passage towards the end that struck gold for me, it resonated with where I am in my life. Grace is musing to herself after stopping her meds cold-turkey. She thinks, <i>&quot;Weight gain is a common side effect of drugs, and usually considered a minor one. I would suggest that those who consider it minor have not experienced blowing up so big that, when you step on a talking scale it says, 'One at a time, please.' When there's not just a thin person inside you trying to get out, but several of them. I'm not talking about vanity. I'm talking about your sense of self. Consider the number of times you see your body. In the mirror and in windows as you walk. Your hands as you type or sort the washing...All these times, to be confronted by the sight of someone who is not you- not-your-hands at the end of not-your arms - can fill you with a sense of dislocation each second of each minute of each day.&quot;</i> Overall, a good read. But it did lose a star because of what I perceived to be fantasy (her ease at changing her lifestyle) in a contemporary novel.
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This book is interesting for those who are intreiged by OCD. I do not recommend children under 13 read this book because of the sexual content. Otherwise it is a okay book.