5. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

cover art for An Abundance of KatherinesAn Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
First published 2006
ISBN:  0525476881
ISBN13:  9780525476887

Plot Summary
After being dumped by his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine on the day they graduated from high school, Colin and his best (and only) friend Hassan set out in Colin’s car from Chicago to parts unknown. Colin, a child prodigy afraid he is losing his edge, and Hassan, a wise-cracking Muslim taking a year off before college, have been friends for several years, in spite of–or perhaps because of–Colin’s inability to whisper, penchant for anagrams, and intense study habits. Their hope is that the road-trip will help heal Colin’s broken heart and give them time to think about their futures, but their spur-of-the-moment arrival in Gutshot, TN, leads them into a far more entertaining and enlightening adventure than they could have imagined.

Critical Evaluation
An Abundance of Katherines is a strong, refreshing, well-paced book that delves into the pain of self-realization and being dumped without veering into maudlin tones or minimizing that pain (as an adult looking on after a young adult’s breakup might). Green balances the impact of each character’s experience with humor, related trivia, and insight as they learn both happy and difficult lessons about themselves and their places in the world. Elements of adventure, mystery, and math are interwoven into Colin’s story as he reflects on the nineteen Katherines, so readers of all types will inevitably find something interesting in the novel. The unabridged audiobook version, narrated by Jeff Woodman, is also an enjoyable listen–Woodman reads with a pleasing tone, pauses appropriately, and is able to convey characters in differing voices without seeming ridiculous.

Reader’s Annotation
Many stories start with a heartbroken boy just out of high school and his wise-cracking best friend, but An Abundance of Katherines includes so much more: nineteen girlfriends named Katherine, wild hog hunting, the heir to a textile factory, a formula to predict the success of any romantic relationship, and a little town in Tennessee all come together to teach Colin and Hassan about life, love, and their own truths.

Information about the Author
From John Green’s website (http://johngreenbooks.com/bio-contact/):
“John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than a dozen languages…

Green’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Booklist, a wonderful book review journal where he worked as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska. Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.”

Green is also known for the year-long span in 2007 in which he and his brother Hank communicated in the form of video logs; they called this project Brotherhood 2.0, which is available on the YouTube Vlogbrothers channel.  The popularity of their project prompted them to continue recording as a pair, and their fans are called Nerdfighters (Wikipedia).

John Green’s site:  http://johngreenbooks.com/
John Green’s tumblr:  http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/
John and Hank Green’s YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers

Fiction–coming of age–road trip.

Curriculum Ties
Could be used for Social Science (world history) in conjunction with World War 1 events via continued reference to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria or mathematics in conjunction with lessons on algebra and graphing functions, but these are not the focus of the book.

Booktalking Ideas
1. If you could take a road trip today, who would you bring with you?
2. Anagramming
3. How to tell a good story

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9-12 (Booklist, 2006).

Challenge Issues
Depictions of hunting and bullying, one sex act, swear words (including ethnic slurs and repeated use of “fug” for the F-word), consumption of alcohol.

Why was this included?

I chose this for the cover initially, but it turned out to be one of my favorites among this list.  Warmly reviewed on TeenReads.com (Farrey, 2006).  Awards: Printz Honor Books: 2007; Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2006; Best Books for Young Adults: 2007.


Booklist. (2006). An abundance of Katherine [book review]. Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/An-Abundance-of-Katherines-John-Green/pid=1709069

Farrey, B. (2006, September 21). An abundance of Katherines [book review]. Retrieved from http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/an-abundance-of-katherines

John Green (author). (2011, September 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Green_(author)&oldid=452282458

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