December 17, 2016
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
When you say that someone has a type, usually you mean a certain physical appearance or personality type. But in the case of Colin Singleton it’s the name Katherine. Not Catherine. Not Kate. Not Catrina. Katherine. To be specific, he has dated a Katherine 19 times to the exclusion of girls by any other name.
Unfortunately, Katherine 19 has dumped him right after graduation, right after he takes her out for dinner.
Colin isn’t clueless about how he turns girls off. He is a prodigy after all — a trait which is often, eventually, a deal breaker. He’s not exactly socially skilled and unfortunately he know it. Because of this, he’s more than a little insecure. That’s another deal breaker. So is his love of anagraming — only Katherine 19 found that trait adorable.
With his best friend, Colin decides to go on a road trip. They leave Chicago and drive South where they end up in Gut Shot, Tennessee. They stop because they see a bill board advertising the final resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. While there they meet an eccentric businesswoman who hires them to record histories of the local people. Her daughter takes the pair around town and introduces them to a wide variety of local characters. They meet not only the oldsters and current factory workers (the factor makes tampon strings), but also the local teens.
Soon Colin is working on a mathematical formula to determine the length and fate of every romantic relationship. He’s also spending time with their local guide and, against his better judgement, her football player boyfriend. He goes on a wild boar hunt and has his first tip of moonshine. All the while he’s figuring out who he is now that he is no longer a child prodigy or attached to a Katherine.
I’m not sure how I managed to miss this particular book for so long. I love John Green and the blunt honesty he brings to his writing for teens. Of course, it is this blunt honesty that sometimes gets him into trouble with book-banning adults. The teens in his books sometimes drink and even have sex. That said, please be willing to share this book with your teen. It is about self-discovery and learning to truly see others. It is about friendship, hope and being willing to give up something so that someone else can have what they need.
If you aren’t familiar with Green’s work, you should be. His book speaks to teens because he writes about what is uncomfortable and messy and true.