Morrow, Feb 2009, $24.95
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.