After being dumped for the nineteenth time by the nineteenth Katherine, Colin Singleton is devastated. So when Hassan, his overweight non-academically ambitious best friend suggests they go on a road trip to get his mind off things, Colin agrees. They soon find themselves in a small town in Tennessee, befriending a girl named Lindsey and her mother Hollis. Hollis convinces them to stay for a while and help her with a project, and Colin figures this would be a good time to try and perfect a math theorem that would graph the course of every relationship, validating Dumpers and Dumpees everywhere.
Being that the only experiences I’ve had involving John Green were a handful of vlogbrothers YouTube videos and The Fault in Our Stars, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with this read. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. A lot of Green’s humour comes through in his writing and he turns what might have been a story about a mopey kid who got dumped into a road trip adventure with his best friend.
I loved the dynamic that Green creates between Colin and Hassan. They’ve got such a genuine friendship that’s easy and yet they both know how to push each other’s buttons, and when to stop. The brainiac, and the not-so-brainiac complement each other exceptionally, and their camaraderie feels very real. The book is also filled with footnotes, as well as an appendix, which I thought would have been annoying to follow, but it actually worked really well with the narrative. It fits with the academia theme of Colin’s “kid genius” title, to have this coming of age tale of sorts to be read at times like a text book. With Colin’s search for the perfect math formula, it’s as if his entire life story can be whittled down to a school lesson to be learned. While I’m certainly not a math whiz, the formulas are explained in such a way that it doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to reader nor that it’s overly complicated to understand. The appendix even explains the formula even more, should the reader actually want to find out how the Katherine theorem worked. To be honest, the math still went over my head a bit but I understood the gist of it, and that’s really all you need to understand the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the wit and banter in this John Green novel (that wasn’t as sad as The Fault in Our Stars was). An Abundance of Katherines is a great read, with an important underlying message that I felt was the moral of the story: Don’t be so focused on the hang-ups of your past to see what’s right in front of you.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
Available: September 1, 2006
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to follow in the coming week.