Cannonball Read V: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Colin Singleton is a high school senior who has just graduated. Colin leads a unique life: First of all, he was a child prodigy; he is a wealth of knowledge and knows at least eight languages. Second, Colin has dated (and been dumped by) nineteen Katherines in his life. Colin is devastated after Katherine number nineteen dumps him. In order to get him out of his slump his best friend Hassan, who is outspoken, unmotivated and loves Judge Judy (basically Colin's opposite in every way), convinces him to go on a road trip. Along the way they stop in Gutshot, TN to see the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and this is where their adventures begin and both boys starting learning to truly live their lives.
There's no skirting around it: An Abundance of Katherines is firmly in "quirky" territory. There are a lot of random facts that get thrown around and some absurdly unbelievable situations, but because Green is such a strong writer, he pulls it off with heart and humor. Colin is a fully realized character, one that quite frankly starts off a little bit unlikeable. He is fully immersed in his own self pity, and I simultaneously felt sorry for him and wanted to smack him and tell him to get his shit together. Thankfully, Hassan felt the same way I did and never let Colin stray into self pity territory if he could help it. And the great thing about Green's writing is that by the end, I was totally rooting for Colin and happy for how far he came from the start of the book.
This is another take on the coming-of-age genre, but thanks to Green's talent (if you can't tell, I love him), it feels fresh, and there were several for real laugh out loud moments. And the footnotes, oh the footnotes. These are what convey most of those random facts I was talking about, and the first one that defines the the German word "sitzpinkler" (a man who sits to pee) is most definitely my favorite, though they are all entertaining. This book is clever and has a lot of laughs and really gives a nice spin to the familiar trope of the coming of age road trip story.
I picked this up because I loved Green's The Fault in Our Stars so much, and while the books are very, very different, Green's voice shines through both. His writing is simple, effusive, and charming, and there's a love for his characters that permeates both books. If you like books with heart, and don't mind quirky, I'd say give this one a go.
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