An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines

4.2 422
by John Green
     
 

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From the #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home

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Overview

From the #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy–loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

"Fully fun, challengingly complex and entirely entertaining." —Kirkus, starred review

“Laugh-out-loud funny…a coming-of-age American road trip that is at once a satire of and tribute to its many celebrated predecessors.” –Horn Book, starred review

“Imagine an operating room at the start of a daring but well-rehearsed procedure and you will have something of the atmosphere of “An Abundance of Katherines”: every detail considered, the action unrolling with grace and inevitability.” —New York Times Book Review

“Funny, sweet, and unpredictable.” –The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The laugh-out-loud humor ranges from delightfully sophomoric to subtly intellectual.” –Booklist, starred review

Publishers Weekly
Though Woodman did a strong job on the audio version of Green's Looking for Alaska (see above), the author's second young adult novel proves to be more of a challenge. This follow-up is looser and less traditionally structured, more in the postmodern vein, without a sad and lovable heroine for a narrator to wrap his energies around. There's a much nerdier element to Green's latest hero, teenage prodigy Colin Singleton, and not as much understandable or likeable weirdness in the other characters. Despite these shortcomings, Woodman does manage to carve out a narrow turf of credibility and interest, where young adults who enjoy being tested by their entertainment choices might find some moments of pleasure. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Lorraine Squires
Colin Singleton, child prodigy, has just been dumped by Katherine XIX-the nineteenth girl named Katherine whom Colin has loved and lost. To help him get over his anguish, Colin's friend Hassan suggests a road trip. They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, the final resting place of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and home to Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother, Hollis, who promptly hires the two boys to record the oral histories of her employees at Gutshot Textiles. Meanwhile in his quest to simultaneously win back Katherine XIX and make the leap from prodigy to genius, Colin devises the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, a mathematical formula that can predict the future of a romantic relationship between any two people. This sweet and earnest follow-up to Green's Printz Award-winning Looking for Alaska (Dutton, 2005/VOYA April 2005) tackles many of the same themes-love, friendship, memory-with a lighter touch. Colin, Hassan, and Lindsey Lee are well-drawn, memorable characters, and the friendship between the boys is both touching and hilarious. Dialogue and plot flow together beautifully, enlivened by foreign languages, equations, and expository footnotes. It also includes an entertaining appendix explaining the theorem. Despite some weak points, most notably the odd side plot involving Hollis and the textiles company, it is an enjoyable, thoughtful novel that will attract readers interested in romance, math, or just good storytelling. It is highly recommended for public and high school libraries.
KLIATT
Dumped by the latest in a series of girlfriends named Katherine, 17-year-old Colin, a former child prodigy, heads out on a recuperative road trip with his friend Hassan. They travel south from Chicago and end up in a small town in Tennessee, where they meet a girl named Lindsey Lee whose mother hires them to record oral histories of the townspeople. All the while Colin labors away at his Theorem, a mathematical formula that will predict which person in a romantic relationship will dump the other. Various misadventures, including a zany pig hunt, help Colin let go of expectations, understand himself and others better, and finally fall for a girl who isn't named Katherine. This comic novel is different in tone from Green's tragic Printz Medal-winning YA novel, Looking for Alaska, but similar in that it also features witty dialog and a smart, engaging cast of characters. Sophisticated teens will enjoy the wordplay and the warm friendships portrayed. The text is augmented by footnotes and graphs, and an appendix explains the math, in case readers are interested. Some sex and profanity. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Penguin, Dutton, 240p., $16.99.. Ages 15 to adult.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature - Debbie Levy
Unlikely as it is for a nerdy, anagram-crazy child prodigy to have had nineteen romantic relationships with girls named Katherine by the time he graduates high school, this is the premise of this engaging novel, and Green makes it believable. This is no small feat, as the story is full of tall-tale elements, as the protagonist, Colin Singleton, embarks on a freewheeling road trip with his best friend, Hassan. The trip takes the two young men from Chicago to a tiny Tennessee town where the locals accept the Lebanese Muslim Hassan (who often introduces himself by saying "I'm not a terrorist"), a woman offers Colin and Hassan a meal, a job, and living quarters in her bubble-gum pink mansion, and the woman's daughter, Lindsey, becomes Colin's first non-Katherine romantic relationship. Woven in with these plot threads are Colin's efforts to grow from being a prodigy to a full-fledged genius by creating a mathematical formula (called the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability) that will prove the future of any romantic relationship, and Hassan's desire to avoid going to college so that he can focus on the two loves of his life—Judge Judy and eating. It's all over the top, and yet the story is convincing. The characters are odd, but appealing. The dialogue is quick and clever. Colin's growing insights about himself and relationships and what matters in life feel true. Green adds even more interest by including quirky footnotes in the text. An appendix elaborates on Colin's mathematical theorem.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Printz medalist John Green's main character in this novel (Dutton, 2006) is a loner who has a hard time making friends (though no trouble finding girlfriends) and a quirky taste for anagrams and odd facts. At the end of his senior year of high school, Colin Singleton has just been dumped by a girl named Katherine (it's the 19th time he's been dumped). Stuck in a quagmire of indecision about his future and egged on by his friend Hassan, Colin sets out on an aimless road trip until his attention is caught by a sign for the burial place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the middle of rural Tennessee. Colin and Hassan find friends, jobs, and fulfill Colin's quest to understand why he is always being dumped by his girlfriends. He develops a mathematical theorem that focuses on predicting the outcome of romantic relationships. Along the way, there is plenty of humor in the story. Narrator Jeff Woodman creates a distinct and lively persona for each character, complete with accents and inflections. Colin's uniquely na ve attributes combine with his obvious intelligence and checkered romantic past to create a character that Woodman brings to life quite vividly. The math angle and humorous anagrams may create additional interest for some teens. Although the story line is a bit thin, the plot's identity concerns make this an interesting choice for high school and public library collections for older teens.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Colin Singleton, child prodigy, tries to turn his 19 failed encounters with girls named Katherine into a formula that will predict the outcome of all relationships and elevate him to genius status. He and best friend Hassan take a somewhat non-traditional post-graduation road trip and end up in Gutshot, Tenn., guests of the owner of a factory that makes strings for tampons. Colin's wit, anagrams and philosophical quest for order combine with Lebanese Hassan's Muslim heritage and stand-up comedy routines to challenge the macho posturing of local youth, who are friends of Lindsey, the daughter of their hostess. When the boys are hired to collect oral histories of the town, their attachment to the small-town folk is cemented by cruising main street and hunting wild boar. Relationships develop, as does Colin, whom Lindsey somehow manages to teach how to tell a story, a skill truly lacking earlier. Sustaining the mood of giddy fun and celebratory discovery, Green omits the dark moments and bleak tragedy of his Printz Award-winning debut, Looking for Alaska (2005). There are tender tearful moments of romance and sadness balanced by an ironic tone and esoteric footnotes along with complex math. Fully fun, challengingly complex and entirely entertaining. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142410707
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
10/16/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
9,279
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

(one)

The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated fromhigh school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine,he took a bath. Colin had always preferred baths; one of his general policiesin life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily bedone lying down. He climbed into the tub as soon as the water got hot, andhe sat and watched with a curiously blank look on his face as the water overtookhim. The water inched up his legs, which were crossed and folded intothe tub. He did recognize, albeit faintly, that he was too long, and too big, forthis bathtub—he looked like a mostly grown person playing at being a kid.As the water began to splash over his skinny but unmuscled stomach,he thought of Archimedes. When Colin was about four, he read a bookabout Archimedes, the Greek philosopher who’d discovered that volumecould be measured by water displacement when he sat down in the bathtub.Upon making this discovery, Archimedes supposedly shouted “Eureka!”[1] and then ran naked through the streets. The book said that manyimportant discoveries contained a “Eureka moment.” And even then, Colinvery much wanted to have some important discoveries, so he asked hismom about it when she got home that evening.

“Mommy, am I ever going to have a Eureka moment?”

“Oh, sweetie,” she said, taking his hand. “What’s wrong?”

“I wanna have a Eureka Moment,” he said, the way another kid mighthave expressed longing for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

She pressed the back of her hand to his cheek and smiled, her face soclose to his that he could smell coffee and makeup. “Of course, Colin baby.Of course you will.”

But mothers lie. It’s in the job description.

Colin took a deep breath and slid down, immersing his head. I am crying, hethought, opening his eyes to stare through the soapy, stinging water. I feellike crying, so I must be crying, but it’s impossible to tell because I’m underwater.But he wasn’t crying. Curiously, he felt too depressed to cry. Too hurt.It felt as if she’d taken the part of him that cried.

He opened the drain in the tub, stood up, toweled off, and got dressed.When he exited the bathroom, his parents were sitting together on his bed.It was never a good sign when both his parents were in his room at the sametime. Over the years it had meant:

1. Your grandmother/grandfather/Aunt-Suzie-whom-you-never-met-but-trust-me-she-was-nice-and-it’s-a-shame is dead.

2. You’re letting a girl named Katherine distract you from your studies.

3. Babies are made through an act that you will eventually find intriguingbut for right now will just sort of horrify you, and also sometimespeople do stuff that involves baby-making parts that does not actuallyinvolve making babies, like for instance kiss each other in placesthat are not on the face.

It never meant:

4. A girl named Katherine called while you were in the bathtub. She’ssorry. She still loves you and has made a terrible mistake and is waitingfor you downstairs.

But even so, Colin couldn’t help but hope that his parents were in the roomto provide news of the Number 4 variety. He was a generally pessimistic person,but he seemed to make an exception for Katherines: he always felt theywould come back to him. The feeling of loving her and being loved by herwelled up in him, and he could taste the adrenaline in the back of histhroat, and maybe it wasn’t over, and maybe he could feel her hand in hisagain and hear her loud, brash voice contort itself into a whisper to sayI-love-you in the very quick and quiet way that she had always said it. Shesaid I love you as if it were a secret, and an immense one.

His dad stood up and stepped toward him. “Katherine called my cell,”he said. “She’s worried about you.” Colin felt his dad’s hand on his shoulder,and then they both moved forward, and then they were hugging.

“We’re very concerned,” his mom said. She was a small woman withcurly brown hair that had one single shock of white toward the front. “Andstunned,” she added. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Colin said softly into his dad’s shoulder. “She’s just—she’d had enough of me. She got tired. That’s what she said.” And then hismom got up and there was a lot of hugging, arms everywhere, and his momwas crying. Colin extricated himself from the hugs and sat down on his bed.He felt a tremendous need to get them out of his room immediately, like ifthey didn’t leave he would blow up. Literally. Guts on the walls; his prodigiousbrain emptied out onto his bedspread.

“Well, at some point we need to sit down and assess your options,” hisdad said. His dad was big on assessing. “Not to look for silver linings, but itseems like you’ll now have some free time this summer. A summer class atNorthwestern, maybe?”

“I really need to be alone, just for today,” Colin answered, trying to conveya sense of calm so that they would leave and he wouldn’t blow up. “Socan we assess tomorrow?”

“Of course, sweetie,” his mom said. “We’ll be here all day. You justcome down whenever you want and we love you and you’re so so special,Colin, and you can’t possibly let this girl make you think otherwise becauseyou are the most magnificent, brilliant boy—” And right then, the mostspecial, magnificent, brilliant boy bolted into his bathroom and puked hisguts out. An explosion, sort of.

“Oh, Colin!” shouted his mom.

“I just need to be alone,” Colin insisted from the bathroom. “Please.”When he came out, they were gone.

For the next fourteen hours without pausing to eat or drink or throw upagain, Colin read and reread his yearbook, which he had received just fourdays before. Aside from the usual yearbook crap, it contained seventy-twosignatures. Twelve were just signatures, fifty-six cited his intelligence,twenty-five said they wished they’d known him better, eleven said it was funto have him in English class, seven included the words “pupillary sphincter,”[2] and a stunning seventeen ended, “Stay Cool!” Colin Singleton couldno more stay cool than a blue whale could stayskinny or Bangladesh couldstayrich. Presumably, those seventeen people were kidding. He mulled thisover—and considered how twenty-five of his classmates, some of whomhe’d been attending school with for twelve years, could possibly havewanted to “know him better.” As if they hadn’t had a chance.

But mostly for those fourteen hours, he read and reread KatherineXIX’s inscription:

Col,

Here’s to all the places we went. And all the places we’ll go. Andhere’s me, whispering again and again and again and again:iloveyou.

yrs forever, K-a-t-h-e-r-i-n-e

Eventually, he found the bed too comfortable for his state of mind, so he laydown on his back, his legs sprawled across the carpet. He anagrammed “yrsforever” until he found one he liked: sorry fever. And then he lay there in hisfever of sorry and repeated the now memorized note in his head and wantedto cry, but instead he only felt this aching behind his solar plexus. Cryingadds something: crying is you, plus tears. But the feeling Colin had wassome horrible opposite of crying. It was you, minus something. He keptthinking about one word—forever—and felt the burning ache just beneathhis rib cage.It hurt like the worst ass-kicking he’d ever gotten. And he’d gotten plenty.

(1) Greek: “I have found it.”

(2) More on that later.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

"Fully fun, challengingly complex and entirely entertaining." Kirkus, starred review

“Laugh-out-loud funny…a coming-of-age American road trip that is at once a satire of and tribute to its many celebrated predecessors.” –Horn Book, starred review

“Imagine an operating room at the start of a daring but well-rehearsed procedure and you will have something of the atmosphere of “An Abundance of Katherines”: every detail considered, the action unrolling with grace and inevitability.” --New York Times Book Review

“Funny, sweet, and unpredictable.” –The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The laugh-out-loud humor ranges from delightfully sophomoric to subtly intellectual.” –Booklist, starred review

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