“The Art of Adapting” by Cassandra Dunn is a novel focusing on change, obstacles and triumphs of a family in Southern California. Lana, a recently separated mother of two teenagers, is trying to not only adjust to her newly changed marital status, but also the financial uncertainties associated with it. In addition, she has taken in Matt, her brother who is profoundly impacted by Asperger’s Syndrome, following an overdose.
Sounds like a lot to handle, right? While you do see how the changes in circumstances impacts each member of the family in chapters dedicated to their points of view, what affected me most was the idea that every character—young or old—is capable of adapting. All they need is will and the support to do so. You could argue that the changes have hit the youngest child the hardest, as Abby struggles are manifested in physical ways, but really each character must break out of the confines of the realities that they have created for themselves and their standard responses to difficulties if they want to survive and thrive.
Honestly, I think people will be able to relate to the message of the book even if they aren’t experiencing these specific circumstances. We face change our entire lives. We can either struggle against it, or we can learn the delicate art of adapting. I know that it is something that I deal with all the time now. As my circumstances have changed—leaving the stable job, moving in with the boyfriend, taking on a new career, putting my work out into the world—I have had to work on my attitude, fears and responses to the obstacles dropped on me. What I did 15 years ago will not work now. And while it is often easy to fall back into those patterns, the only way to thrive is to adapt. Naturally that it is easier to say than to do, but each day is a new opportunity to try.
“The Art of Adapting” is a well-written novel in equal parts about struggle and success. Challenges abound, but for anyone who enjoys reading about family dynamics and what it takes to enact real change, this book is an excellent read.