Grace Vandenburg counts everything. From the amount of steps it takes her to walk between any two given places, to the amount of letters in people’s names, even to the amount of bristles in her toothbrush. She likes to buy things – even such things as bottles of shampoo and boxes of washing powder in sets of 10.
Grace has chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which has cost her the teaching job she loved, and robbed of any semblence of a social life. The only people she feels able to connect to at all are her niece Hilary (who Grace calls Larry) and Nikola Tesla the long dead inventor who discovered electricity). She doesn’t see herself as a victim though, because Grace believes that numbers bring order to a chaotic world.
When Grace meets Seamus O’Reilly, her life is turned upside down. Seamus doesn’t count things, and he thinks that Grace would be better if she didn’t either. And Grace finds herself having to decide between her safe routines dictated by her counting, or a journey into the unknown with Seamus.
I enjoyed this book very much. It is narrated by Grace herself, and it was refreshing that despite her condition, Grace came across as a sassy, smart and sharp person with a quick wit, and it was easy to like her. I also adored the character of Larry, Grace’s niece, who, like Grace, is sharp and sassy, but doesn’t thankfully doesn’t suffer with OCD.
The way that Grace’s condition is portrayed is excellent, and shows how OCD (however it manifests itself) can be debilitating and can keep someone in a virtual prison. I actually think this would be an excellent book to read for anyone who was looking to learn more about the condition.
I was also surprisingly fascinated by the parts of about Nikola Tesla, Grace’s hero, whose life she describes in scattered parts throughout the narrative.
It is a very quick read (certainly snappy enough to be read in one sitting) and a thoroughly enjoyable one. However, I do have mixed feelings about the ending. I won’t reveal what happens, but I am not sure whether I liked it or not. Overall though, this is definitely a book I would recommend.