'An Abundance of Katherines' by John Green
Published on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 9:02am
One of the big events libraries celebrate in September is Banned Books Week, where we highlight the mission of the library to provide information and entertainment on all topics and viewpoints, even if some readers might find it offensive. One of the authors we highlight during this time is John Green, whose works are often challenged in libraries across the country.
Toward that end, take a look at one of Green’s most interesting works, An Abundance of Katherines.
Colin just graduated from high school, which ends his status as a child prodigy, and puts in doubt whether or not he will ever fulfill his desperate desire to become a genius. The end of high school also ends his relationship with his girlfriend Katherine, the nineteenth girl he’s dated that has had that name.
His friend Hassan takes him on a road trip to help relieve his misery, and the two end up in Gutshot, Tenn. There they meet an interesting cast of characters, who inspire Colin to create his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he thinks will help him become a genius and save him from ever being dumped again. But it might just be the other things that Colin and Hassan find in Gutshot that will help the prodigy get a new lease on life.
Few of the readers of this book will ever be called child prodigies or geniuses, but despite that, they will definitely be able to relate to Colin and his nearly-as-smart friend Hassan. Despite his many character flaws, Colin is perversely likable, especially as his time in Gutshot brings his flaws to light and he works a bit on fixing them.
Hassan and Lindsey, the book’s female protagonist, have similar transformative experiences. There is witty dialogue and banter between the three teens, but be warned that it can be as crass as it can be humorous, something that will appeal to teen readers but may not to those out of high school and college. Gutshot is described in great detail, and transforms from a tourist trap to a beautiful place to grow up. Some interesting extra information not explained in the story can be found in the often humorous footnotes and some great end material.
In the end, this is a great title that will appeal to a lot of male and a few female teen readers, even if the math might be a bit over their heads.
An Abundance of Katherines is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers. Check it out along with other books by John Green at MLK Library or your local DC Public Library branch today.
-- Brandon Digwood