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OddsReview - Odds
by Patty Friedmann
Counterpoint Press, 2000
Review by Patricia Ferguson
Dec 17th 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 51)

What are the odds that this 249-page novel, published by Counterpoint, would be a good book?  Well, consider these questions. What are the odds of winning in a casino? What are the odds of having twins? What are the odds of one of them having no arms or legs? What are the odds that one of them will die as a young child? What are the odds of a marriage surviving such problems?

Well, if one is to believe the concept suggested to Anna, the main character, by her mother,  “there are no accidents.” The concept of surviving through accidents, or unexpected difficulties, is the theme of the book. The plot makes this theme come to life in a way that you will never forget.

The author uses words in a very unusual way. The words she uses often have several possible meanings. Like so much that happens in the book, nothing is what it seems.  Even the title is a play on words and it is used with all its meanings as the book goes on. So, what are the “odds” that an “accident” is going to happen to Anna?

Chronically depressed and apathetic, with low self-esteem, Anna is exactly the type of woman who would marry a controlling man like George. George leads her to believe that he is a normal person and that it is Anna who is not good enough for him. Their marriage doesn’t even start out happy or in any way “normal,” and their relationship would have been more likely to occur in the 1950s. 

Anna’s mother has raised her to be a very dependent person. Furthermore, she was raised to believe that she had no particularly outstanding qualities, such as intelligence, creativity, the ability to love someone else, or the ability to know what she wants.

However, Anna is an intelligent but uneducated woman who undergoes considerable personal growth, as life circumstances require her to do so. The setting is in New Orleans, circa the years it was written and published in, the late 1990s.

George is an attorney, and Anna knows very little else about him. She doesn’t even know what kind of attorney he is. Unfortunately, her low self-esteem prevents her from standing up to George, to getting closer to him as a wife, or to do anything for herself. She doesn’t’ even know what she would do with her life if someone else wasn’t paying the bills. Again, this is reminiscent of the 1950s. Back then, women would put up with much more from their husbands than they will today. Today they are considered to be equals even if they do not earn the same amount of money. Of course, this is not always the case now, but it is believed to be the norm. Research does support the fact that women have made considerable progress in many areas of relationships with men.

So, George blames Anna for all of their problems, and although she knows nothing is all her fault, she is never able to articulate her feelings. However, they each cope by living in their separate worlds of misery. George immerses himself in work, and Anna takes care of her children and eventually finds some recreation outside the house.

Anna’s mother is so enmeshed with Anna that she lives with them. She lives in Anna’s head, and has Anna convinced that she knows what Anna is thinking and doing. In fact, her mother is very insecure, and Anna correctly believes that her mother purposely raised her to be dependent on her mother so that she would never leave her.

On the other hand the story with George’s family, though we know very little about it throughout most of the book, is completely different. It turns out that his family is the key to many of the mysteries in the book.

As Anna goes through several life lessons she naturally grows more capable and independent of both George and her mother. One of the driving forces in her life is her love for her children, and it is that force that saves her from them and from herself.

Although the book did not on the surface seem interesting to me, it definitely was worth my time. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in family dynamics, including marital and parent-child relationships.  It is also interesting from the point of view of individual psychology as well as mental and physical difficulties.

 

© 2002 Patricia Ferguson

 

 

 Dr. Patricia Ferguson is a licensed clinical psychologist in northern California. She is also a published freelance writer and editor in many different areas, including ADVANCE for radiation technicians, MedioCom, and The Journal of Interpersonal Violence. She was honored to be placed in Who's Who of Women for the Year 2000. Her areas of interest are varied. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from San Diego State University and received her doctorate from Nova University in Florida. She enjoys traveling, camping, and playing guitar. She also has sold a few pieces of her artwork. Most importantly to her, she enjoys her family time, including her husband, daughter, 20, and son, 14.


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