An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2006)

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Synopsis

An Abundance of Katherines tells the story of Colin Singleton, aged 17 and “noted child prodigy” obsessed with making anagrams. He has just been dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine when his best friend Hassan decides that all Colin needs is a road trip. So they hit the road, destination: nowhere.

Shortly after having started their spontaneous road trip they decide to make a stop in Gutshot, Tenessee, to see the alleged burial site of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. There, they meet the Wells family: Lindsey Lee Wells is the tour guide for the gravesite and her mom, Hollis, the owner of the only factory in Gutshot, which gives employment to more than half of the population. Hollis offers the two boys a job which consists on interviewing workers or ex-workers of the factory and provides them with room and board in her big pink mansion.

Before long, Hassan starts dating Lindsey’s friend Katrina while Colin is learning that there is more than one way to “matter” than becoming famous since, as he says, there is a notable difference between being a “child prodigy” and a genius. Also, Lindsey is helping Colin construct his mathematical Theorem to make an accurate guess of how any relationship is going to be as well as its duration, but, can love really be predicted?

Characters

Colin Singleton: He is a 17-year-old child prodigy, weepy and self-absorbed. He also apparently has a spot for girls named Katherine since he’s dated nineteen of these – all of them ending up dumping him. Colin loves anagramming, reading and learning languages. It is mentioned in the story that he is “half-jew” although not religious.

Hassan Harbish: Colin’s best friend, he’s corpulent as well as funny and witty. He usually introduces himself to people as “Hassan Harbish, Sunni Muslim. Not a terrorist”. Hassan is quite lazy and loves eating. He dates Lindsey’s friend Katrina and claims to be a huge fan of TV show Judge Jury.

Lindsey Lee Wells: A 17-year-old girl from Gutshot with a bubbly personality. She helps Colin with his theorem and teaches him how to tell a good story too. She’s been in a relationship with a guy named Jake for two years although she feels as if he doesn’t love her back, or at least hasn’t claimed he does so. She seems to be a charming smiley girl but she is in fact a really introspective character.

My personal opinion:

I’ve loved this book just as much as all the previous John Green books I’ve read previously, his writing is delightful. The book has a touch of humour brought in by Hassan (as well as Lindsey’s witty comments and Colin’s unusual ones) but also makes a convincing argument about how important stories are to changing the reader, and maybe even changing the world. I love all the little side notes at the end of the pages that include interesting facts (which have definitely taught me new things) and explain how various formulas work. I was also amazed by the fact that the main formula that Colin is working on throughout the novel is actually real, any other author would’ve made up a fake formula but Green took the time to consult a friend of his (a Mathematician) and also think of the results of anagramming various words.

Who would I recommend it to?

I’m quite sure this book is more focused to a teenager-adult public, so I’d recommend it to teenager and young adult. The novel is entertaining, funny and charming.

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