Book: An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
2006 (Speak/Penguin)

Colin only dates girls named Katherine and he just broke up with Katherine XIX. He’s devastated. To help get him out of his Katherine-induced funk, his best friend Hassan proposes a road trip. They somehow end up in a small town in Tennessee. There they get recruited by a businesswoman to gather the life stories of the town’s inhabitants to preserve the history of the community. With the help of Lindsey, the businesswoman’s daughter, Colin sets out to write a mathematical theorem that can explain all of his past relationships and predict the outcome of future ones. Nothing seems to go exactly as planned for any of them, but it’s definitely a summer to remember.

The characterizations in this book are fantastic. Every single character feels fleshed out and distinct. Since it’s Colin’s story, the book itself kind of has a Colin flavor (footnotes, tangents, etc.), but every other character still feels unique. Even the town of Gutshot has a distinct personality which comes through in not only it’s physical characteristics, but also the personalities that inhabit it. The book is pretty quiet, when you get right down to it, and it’s partially the strength of the characters that make it so remarkable.

An Abundance of Katherines revolves around a number of themes, many of which are quite intriguing. I was particularly impressed that the themes carry through all the way to the end and it is these themes, and not anything happening in particular, that make the ending so satisfying. The idea of a search to remember and understand everything is possibly the strongest, and certainly one that carries through to every major character, but the idea of words and formulas representing anything and everything is pretty central as well. Mr. Green plays with these ideas in interesting ways and really asks his readers to think about them.

There are so many strengths to talk about in this book – the themes, the writing, the characters, even the math itself. I have a feeling that every reader is going to find something a little different in it, and that makes it all the more worth reading. An Abundance of Katherines really is one of the best young adult books I’ve read and I would absolutely recommend it. It’s got great ideas, interesting characters, fantastic writing and best of all, it does an amazing job of inviting it’s readers to think.

- Publisher’s Description

- John Green’s Website

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