Review: The Odds

The Odds

The Odds
By Stewart O’Nan
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670023165, January 19, 2012, 192pp.)

The Short of It:

A brutally honest look at a marriage in crisis.

The Rest of It:

In all my years as a reader, I’ve never read an O’Nan novel. Boy, have I been missing out.

Art and Marion Fowler ditch their soon-to-be foreclosed home for Niagara Falls, hoping to recoup enough money to save their home and their marriage.  The odds are against them, in more ways than one but as they rent the “bridal” suite for one last Valentine’s hurrah, one remains hopeful where the other has totally and utterly given up hope.

From the very first page, it’s clear that Marion is going along with Art’s plan as a way to humor him, or perhaps…she feels obligated to give it one last shot just so she can say that she tried everything in her power to make it work.  Regardless, what she is is a broken woman at the end of her rope, hoping to close this chapter so she can move on to the next stage of her life. She’s not entirely convinced that gambling can save them, but she gives it a go for Art’s sake.

Art however, is the opposite. Inside, he knows that the marriage is coming to a close but he’s not ready to throw in the towel. Not quite yet. He’s optimistic to a fault but somehow, you can’t hold that against him. Jobless and wanting nothing more than to provide for his family, he sees this trip as a solution to their problems. Additionally, he has decided to ask Marion to marry him all over again. To start fresh, even if they can never go back to the life they knew so well.

Since the odds of recouping what they need to save the house are slim to none, they continue to squander money by way of their maxed-out credit card, living it up until they are basically told that they no longer can.  Fine dinners, champagne and visiting all of the tourist traps that looked much more appealing the first time around. It’s heartbreaking, really.

But as sad and heartbreaking as so much of it was, I adored it. This story is all about second chances and when O’Nan goes into the heads of these characters, he must come out exhausted because these characters are complex characters with real worries and pressures. Ink on paper one second, living and breathing creatures the next. Amazing.

I can’t compare this book to his others since this was my first experience with O’Nan, but if the character development in his other books is anything like it was here, then I will be reading more of his books in the near future.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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42 thoughts on “Review: The Odds”

  1. Wow, this sounds dark and yet so interesting. I would love to find out how this one turns out…and my guess is not happily…at least for the marriage.

    1. I don’t know about you but any story centered anywhere near a casino is typically a sad affair for me. The desperation to win big, especially as a way to save a marriage is probably one of the saddest story lines I’ve ever read. O’Nan handles it so well though.

  2. O’Nan is a master of character development. I’ve read 3 of his novels and each time felt as if I really knew and understood his characters. Can’t wait to read The Odds!

    1. I cannot wait to read his other books. My library had Wish You Were Here, I think that is the title so I snapped it up. It’s a long one though!

  3. I have Emily Alone by O’Nan lined up to listen to soon. I keep hearing good things about O’Nan’s books, but haven’t read any yet myself. The Odds sounds good to me, and I love the cover.

  4. This was compelling, right? My heart went out to both Art and Marion. He wanted to keep the marriage going and she was so ready to move on. I

    This was my first novel by Onan as well. I hope to read another title or two this year.

    1. That was what I really liked about this book, that you could relate to both of them even though they both had a lot of baggage weighing them down.

  5. I read another review of this book the other day, and was captivated by the story. It all seems so illogical, but the fact that O’Nan explores this seriously, and that he really delves deeply into his characters and their tribulations really interests me. I mentioned somewhere else that I just don’t understand how any couple would find this to be a feasible solution, but it sounds fascinating to read about. Great review today, Ti! I want to read this one when I can!

    1. Once you are in over you head (financially), it doesn’t matter if it’s hundreds or thousands of dollars.. not when you plan to declare bankruptcy. Their thinking was that if they lost everything, they would walk away with nothing… declare bankruptcy and start over. Not much to lose when you’ve lost your marriage and home and your kids are raised and out of the house. At least, that’s what they believed.

  6. I haven’t read any O’Nan yet either, but this sounds heartbreaking (yet fantastic, LOL). Plus, I have sort of a fascination for Niagara Falls even though I’ve never been there, LOL

    1. I have never seen Niagara Falls but after reading this book, I sure feel as if I know the place. The author did such an amazing job setting the scene. I could feel the spray upon my face!

  7. I’ve seen nothing but great reviews of this, but yours might be my favorite, if only for this line: “Ink on paper one second, living and breathing creatures the next. Amazing.” That sentence is amazing. Fabu review, as usual.

    1. Thank you!! At the end of the book I really felt as if I knew these characters, as if they would be my neighbors or something. So realistic.

    1. A lot of readers avoid anything sad or depressing but for some reason, I seek it out! LOL. These types of stories make me appreciate what I have.

  8. This is way up there on my want list. I did read “Emily, Alone” by O’ Nan recently and it had great characters but not much happened, and I read it when I was feeling twitchy. Not really O’ Nan’s fault. I do plan to read more of him and specifically this one.

    1. Are you a member of Net Galley. I got it from there if you are interested.Twitchy, huh? I sort of like stories where nothing much happens. As long as something happens to the characters internally, I am okay with that style of writing.

  9. This is an author I haven’t heard of before. I would be curious to see what you think of his other books too. I do love it when I find an author that is consistently fabulous. 🙂

  10. I really liked this one too, and it was my first O’Nan also! I passed it off t my husband who has also been enjoying it. I’m eager to read more of O’Nan’s work soon too.

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