Is math that hard?

Maybe it is in the editorial context. I don’t know.

I just finished an otherwise good book with what seems like noticeable simple math/age error in the opening chapter.  The narrator tells readers that her husband (a villain) proposed to her when she was 28 years old.  And that they’ve been married for 2 1/2 years.  Which would seem to indicate that she is at least 30 if not running up on 31, yes?  Except then the narrator has a conversation with another character who chides her as being sheltered and not yet 30 years old.

How exactly does that math work?

Look, it isn’t that big a deal in the scheme of things for the book whether she’s 29 or 30 or 40.  But when dates or years are specified, I do the math mentally.  When it doesn’t add up properly, I spend time trying to figure out where/what I misunderstood and am jarred out of the story.  Which is probably not the storyteller’s goal.

This particular author is sort of well-known in her niche and has, as I understand it, very good editors at the various publishers she works with.  And yet this is not the first wonky math in her books:  percentages adding up to more than 100%, timing that makes no sense unless major holidays are moved, etc.

Maybe things shifted in the editorial process.  I don’t know.  But I can tell you that as much as I enjoyed the book, what stands out is the not-quite-right age of the heroine based on the conflicting information provided.

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