Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines

John Green's Printz Honor book An Abundance of Katherines is the story of Colin who has been dumped by girls named Katherine nineteen times. After Katherine number 19 dumped him, Colin and his best friend Hassan take a road trip and end up in Gunshot, Tennessee where Colin meets Lindsey and while trying to sort out his feelings for the various Katherines in his life figures out the Underlying Theory of Katherine Predictability - an equation which will determine how long any relationship will last based on the relative dumper/dumpee status of the couple. He also figures out if he can ever love a girl that isn't named Katherine.

Below is the Peck Essay that I wrote about this book.

How is the main character different from you?

Colin is a dumpee. He has been dumped nineteen times by girls named Katherine. Except for the fact that Colin is male and I am not, he and I are very much alike. I too was a dumpee in my teen and college years. Not nineteen times and the guys had different names but out of the maybe ten or twelve boyfriends I had between the ages of twelve and twenty two, I was the dumper only twice. But status as a dumpee is not the only thing that Colin and I have in common. It’s not just that he is a dumpee, he tends to wallows in his misery about it. He sees his life as a series of relationships that ended badly even though he has some great accomplishments and qualities. That is how I measured myself during my teen years, by who cared about me and when and also when he stopped caring.

Colin is also mathematically minded as am I. He refers to himself as a prodigy, which I did/do not, but math is something that comes naturally to him and he uses it to help make sense out of things. He actually uses math to create the “Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability” to try to figure out why he continues to get dumped and also how he can predict how his next relationship will go. I never came up with something quite that amazing but I remember making charts and writing down ideas as to why my life was going the way it was. It also caused me to continue thinking about all the bad break-ups I had and Colin does a lot of re-living breakups during the story.

Colin and I share an unfortunate tendency to be awkward in social situations. He thinks a lot about what he does and says and wonders how others view him. We both are easily embarrassed and dwell on past mistakes.

Another interesting commonality is what Colin calls myopia. This is in reference to two things. First, Colin has bad vision (he is nearsighted like I am) and Colin also tends to get blindsided by events, he is unable to see what is coming in his near future even if the signs may be there. He really wants to hope and believe that things will work out well this next time if he just gives it a chance but he continues to get let down. Happily, he is also blindsided by a healthy relationship with a non-Katherine named Lindsey as I was blindsided by a relationship with the man who would eventually become my husband. We both got a bit of a happy ending.

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