Hannah Scribbles

Review: An Abundance of Katherines (2006)

In Career, Fun on January 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm

You know how the adage goes.  If life hands you Katherines, you get dumped.


An Abundance of Katherines, AAOK, John Green novel, young adult novels,After Colin Singleton’s girlfriend breaks up with him, he embarks on a road trip with his best friend, Hassan Harbish.  Everything they see reminds Colin of Katherine XIX, the latest in a long line of ex-girlfriends named Katherine.

When the two stop in Gutshot, Tennessee to visit the supposed grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, they meet Lindsey Lee Wells, a tour guide whose mom runs the town mill.  Lindsey’s mother soon hires the boys to catalog the history of the town’s mill.

While Hassan takes on the job with gusto, Colin could care less.  He’s trying to have a Eureka moment by developing a Theorem of Underlying Katherines to predict the future of any relationship.  He is sure the theorem will move him from a mere child prodigy to full-fledged genius.

Throughout the story, Green takes sidesteps to explain Colin’s dating experiences – all with girls named Katherine (hence the name of the book).  He develops Colin’s back story out of order, which sort of fits because the kid can’t tell a story to save his life.  I guess it’s all part of the learning process.

There’s a little Colin in all of us.  Colin is self-absorbed and often oblivious to others’ feelings, but he is determined to make a difference in the world.  He wants “to matter,” and the thought of not mattering depresses him.  His self-absorption inhibits his connection to other people, and that makes him a relatable character.  It isn’t until he takes time to know Lindsey that he learns human connections cannot be predicted by advanced mathematics.

“What matters to you defines your mattering.” – John Green, AAOK

I was introduced to John Green through the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel where he and his brother Hank discuss everything from economics to why they hate nickels.  This is my first foray into John Green’s novels, and so far his style reads much like he talks.  I can almost hear him narrating the book, emphasizing certain words.  You can hear humor bleeding through the pages, pulling a laugh at the book’s frequent situational humor.

Colin Singleton, AAOK, An abundance of katherines formula,Green also uses footnotes to explain details and trivia from the book that he didn’t have time to explain within the story.  Green’s footnotes are used to explain concepts, mathematical formulas and foreign words in a cadence that is humorous while emphasizing the flow of the story.

One of my favorite aspects of “An Abundance of Katherines” is how Green writes Colin’s best friend Hassan, specifically how his religion interacts with his life.  Faith is often portrayed from an either-or position, which creates a media frame where a failure to live up to your faith is seen as a sign of insincerity.  Green breaks from the notion that someone of faith must either be a saint or a hypocrite.

Hassan’s character resonated with me because he cares about his faith but does so imperfectly.  He is lazy. He curses. But at no point does it negate the reality of his faith, and that’s what made the story memorable to me.

Rating:  4 Stars

Best Use of Footnotes:  learning obscure foreign words

Favorite Character:  Lindsey Lee Wells, the girl who doesn’t know who she is yet but wants to find out.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: