An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

abundanceI’ve been mired in one long, thick,  heavy book for much of the summer (you’ll hear more about that later) so at the times when I’ve needed a break (which is often) I’ve been catching up on some of the young adult novels my kids have been reading over the last year or so. As you know, I loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (and love almost everything the man says and does generally) but there were still two of his books that I hadn’t read. I picked one up off the coffee table a couple of weeks ago — it turned out to be An Abundance of Katherines — and was immediately absorbed into its world.

An Abundance of Katherines is really a novel, I think, about the stories we tell ourselves and how we let them define it. Colin has just been dumped — for the nineteenth time, according to his reckoning — by a girl named Katherine. Not that the same Katherine has dumped him 19 times — all his girlfriends have been named Katherine, and they always break up with him. That’s how he defines himself: as the guy who gets dumped by Katherine. Also as a former child prodigy who’s not living up to his early promise. Colin’s best friend Hassan defines himself as the funny fat guy, as a Muslim, as a slacker who doesn’t want to go to college — and, of course, as Colin’s best friend and sidekick. An impulsive decision to take a road trip — combined with an even more impulsive decision to turn off and visit a spot that purports to be the gravesite of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand — causes both Colin and Hassan to question the stories they tell themselves — and others — about who they are. In other words they get a chance to redefine themselves — which is one of the things you should get to do on the ideal road trip. I liked this novel a lot and I’m glad my kids liked it too.


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Filed under Fiction -- general, Young Adult

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