An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green
August 14th 2008(first published 2006)by Puffin
Paperback, 256 pages
0142412023 (isbn13: 9780142412022)
rating: 5 of 5 stars
John Greene popped up on Steph Su’s “Coupla Interviews” – I simply noted the coincidence that he’d written a book on my wishlist – An Abundance of Katherines – and that, for an Indiana boy, he’s hot. Not all authors are - think Stephen King, J.K.Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephanie Meyer (obviously there are exceptions). Still, my sister’s name is Katharine (the spelling difference is very important) so I knew I needed to read this book. Yes, I'm that shallow.
An Abundance of Katherines is the story of child-prodigy Colin Singleton, whose girlfriend Katherine breaks up with him the day of their high school graduation. It turns out that Katherine is Katherine XIX, and that Colin has dated – and been dumped by – nineteen Katherines. To escape his heartbreak, he and his best friend Hassan head out on a road trip. It's the quintessential summer road trip, two oddball guys in a beat up old car with no destination in sight. They end up in Gutshot, TN at the (alleged) tomb of Archduke Ferdinand, staying with the owner of a plant that makes tampon strings, and eating every other meal at the local Hardee's. Colin seeks a Eureka moment, some stupendous discovery to bring meaning and significance to his life. He eventually finds it in Gutshot -- however, it is not the mathematical revelation he was expecting, but rather a personal breakthrough, the culmination to his journey of self-discovery.
The most appropriate review I can give this book is from online shorthand:
An Abundance of Katherines, 2007 Michael L. Printz Award honor book, is hilarious. It’s easily the funniest book I’ve ever read (with the possible exception of anything by George Carlin; and no, I’ve never read David Sedaris.) I think I had a crush on Hassan in college – the dark-skinned, dark-eyed meaty guy who was too unabashedly funny to give a nerdy girl the time of day.
This is a fun, well-written book. With its footnotes and mathematical interludes, it represents the best of style in a postmodern young adult genre (here's the worst). There are references to sex and drugs, but it's the almost understated philosophical rants that make this book best suited for high school readers and older.