by Allison Winn Scotch
Paperback, 306 pg.
The Theory of Opposites starts off with a bang — a Rube-Goldberg of verbal and physical slapstick. Raised by a self-help guru, raised in an atmosphere saturated with and run by her (best-selling and almost universally acclaimed) father’s theories, Willa Chandler-Golden’s life is about to fall apart the way that her day falls apart before she even leaves the apartment this fateful day.
She loses her job, learns that she’s not pregnant after all, learns that her parents are both in the midst of a late-life crisis, learns that the twelve-year-old son of her husband’s dead friend will be spending the summer with them, her husband may be stepping out on her. Oh, yeah — and then a couple weeks later her husband decides they need a break from each other. He’ll be moving across the country, sharing custody of his “nephew.”
So, Willa does what anyone finding themselves in this situation — she agrees to help her best friend write a self-help book that ties into her favorite Reality TV Show. As an added bonus, their book will flatly contradict her father’s near-Nobel Prize winning work.
During this break, catastrophe strikes Willa’s father and brother, her mother’s life turns upside down, and The One Who Got Away comes back into her life.
Somewhere in all this, Willa tries to figure out just what she wants in life, what she believes about life, and what kind of person she’s going to be. The question The Theory of Opposites tries to answer.
There’s fun to be had in the reading, but it’s not as if there’s a denial of the seriousness of it all. Scotch deals with some pretty serious issues with the same light, deft touch she brought to her past novels — breezy enough that you can let the uncomfortable details slip by, but honest enough that they’re in front of you all the time. I don’t think this was quite as satisfying as her The Song Remains the Same, but it was good enough to keep me looking for whatever comes next.