Book: Green, John. An Abundance of Katherines. New York: Dutton Books, 2006.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: 9th-12th grade
Summary: Colin in a prodigy, not genius, who has dated 19 Katherines, and having a very difficult time dealing with the break up of the most recent katherine, also known as K-19. With help from his best and only friend, Hassan, he embarks on a road trip and winds up in a Shotgun, Tennessee. While stopping for what was supposed to be a brief trip to see the grave of Franz Ferdinand, the two friends meet Lindsay and her mother Hollis, who offers the two a summer job with free room and board. While Lindsay finds refuge in Colin, Colin tries to develop a theorem that predicts break-ups only to find that love is unpredictable and ends his streak of Katherines with his new found love interest Lindsay.
Being true to who you are: Lindsay has worked feverishly for years to transform herself into her current popular, gorgeous, loved by all self. After being picked up and lonely for most of her childhood she was determined to date her childhood crush, Colin also know as the other Colin (TOC), in her small hometown and has no plans on leaving Shotgun or the boy she has worked so hard for. When she meets Colin, a brilliant but incredibly quirky young man she quickly finds herself opening up to him about things and places she has never allowed anyone else to see or understand. Colin has his behind his brilliance and all of his Katherines since her was a child until he meets Lindsay, who helps him to realize allowing others to see inside of who he is can be freeing. Throughout the book the two connect increasingly and find that what they have wanted all along was not to be accepted in general but to be accepted for who they are inside.
Love is unpredictable: When Lindsay finds out that her boyfriend of two years has been cheating on her with her best friend, she is distraught not because of the break up but by her lack of emotion towards the breakup. She realizes quickly what she thought she wanted from the other Colin was merely superficial and she truly desires being loved by someone who she can be honest and herself around. She never realized that one person would be her new friend, also named Colin, and opening up to him allows her to realize what she wants from a relationship and how unexpected her romantic feelings for this new Colin are. Colin is dead set on finding a formula for predicting relationships and break ups. He has charted all 19 of his Katherines with the mathematical equation he has developed and finds in the end Love is not something one can map, but Love is random and unpredictable. After mapping his and Lindsay’s new relationship he is shocked to find is equation is incorrect and further shocked on how for once he is glad that his equation is wrong.
Connections: The book I felt most connected to An Abundance of Katherines was I am the Messenger. Both of these novels featured characters with few friends and have felt outcasted for most of their lives. By the end of the novel they realize that the friends they have taken for granted matter more to them than they had ever imagined. I would definitely use this novel in the classroom because it can be enjoyed by both male and female students and lessons about love and relationships can be approached and discussed with my students in an appropriate manner. Students deal with relationships of the opposite sex constantly and it is important for them to be able to talk about them and I feel this book would help them become comfortable with the topic and evoke great discussion within the classroom.
Reactions: Though this book was slow at first by the end of the novel I felt myself connecting with the characters and hoping that Lindsay and Colin would end up together. I loved this book and the characters were so engaging and attachable. The writing was incredibly descriptive, yet sometimes I had trouble following the dialogue between the characters and I had to reread a few parts to fully understand the story. All in all I loved this novel and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Reception: A reader on goodreads.com thought this book was fun and an easy read. She did not feel it would change any lives but she thought it was enjoyable with some good jokes and a good laugh for all readers.
The tone throughout is quirky, nerdy, and generally fun. I don’t know that reading this novel will change any lives, but it will certainly get a lot of laughs. The best parts are, undoubtedly, the dialogues between Hassan and Colin. The guys are just so likable! In addition, Green’s writing is snappy–all the better to keep the laughs coming.
“Like Nothing but the Truth by Justina Chen Headley, this book includes a bit of math. The “real” math behind Colin’s theorem appears in the back of the book in an appendix and Green even has a website where you can use the theorem for your own relationships (if it doesn’t crash your computer). Despite all of that, Green is a self-proclaimed lost cause when it comes to math. (The theorem was drafted by friend (and “resident mathematician” for Brotherhood 2.0), Daniel Biss.) I wanted to share this for a couple of reasons. First, because I think it’s great that Green is writing outside of what some might call his “comfort zone” and, second, because it should illustrate that you don’t have to like math to enjoy a book that features a lot of math.
Anyway, if you need a cheerful book with some fun, lovable characters I don’t think you can do better than this book which was recently nominated for the LA Times Book Award in addition to being selected as a Printz Award honor book (Looking for Alaska won the actual Printz Award, just to put that into perspective). ”
Another reader on goodreads.com felt the book was for lack of a better word dry. They believed it was predictable and did not buy into the fact that Colin was supposed to be a Prodigy. They thought Katherine was the only good thing about the book and did not connect to the other characters.
While the summary says this is a road trip, that is a lie. The road trip ends very quickly. The rest of the book is spent in Tennessee. Conveniently, much like Alaska, Lindsey has no accent. But she is able to put one on in the blink of an eye.
“There is no plot in this book. There is no climax. If anything, it felt like a writing exercise. We knew that Colin was going to end up with Lindsey. We knew that Hassan wasn’t going to keep his girlfriend. This was too predictable, even for Green.
I didn’t mind the math, but it was only there to prove that Colin was smart. I didn’t believe that he was a prodigy. He seemed like one of those whiny gifted kids that complain about being smart when in reality they’re just idiots.
I recommend skipping everything but the flashbacks. You don’t need to read the rest of the story. Like the title says, this is An Abundance of Katherines, and Katherine is the only good thing about it.”