Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

An Abundance of Katherines

Green, John (Author)
Penguin Random House 2008. 236 pages
First published: 2006
ISBN: 9780142410707 (paperback)
9780525476887 (hardcover)
9781440629792 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, dialogue, evocative language, language conventions

Award

Michael L. Printz Honor Book – 2007

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

By Grade 11, Colin sees his career as a child prodigy ending. He tries to remain special by developing a mathematical formula for predicting the outcome of love relationships, based on his own experiences with girlfriends (all named Katherine). Reeling from a recent break-up with the latest Katherine, he and his friend Hassan hit the road. A chance stop in a backwater community ends up providing answers to Colin’s many questions—including an exciting new relationship with a girl named Lindsay.

By turns amusing, witty and slapstick-hilarious, this book offers a scintillating portrait of a unique kid: “The [gifted] preschool said that Colin was too advanced … and anyway, they didn’t accept children who weren’t yet potty-trained.” His only friend, Hassan, is another unforgettable eccentric who tolerates Colin’s quirks with cheerful grace.

The topic of love is treated through a variety of not-so-functional relationships. These include Colin’s own compulsion (“he liked Katherines. And not Katies or Kats or Kitties … or, God forbid, Catherines”), liaisons among local teens, and one woman’s clandestine efforts to sustain her dwindling community.

Through all the laughs, the human desire for authentic contact emerges—whether it involves teens grappling with the beginnings of their lives or old folks nearing the end. By the final chapter, Hassan finally embraces his future, while Colin and Lindsay discover each other, and Colin “was feeling not-unique in the very best possible way.”

  •  

    Clever adolescents who use sophisticated language offer a different perspective on young adults. Of particular note is the use of dialogue, wordplay and various plot elements (such as Colin’s mathematical theories applied to people’s names and relationships).

  •  

    In small groups, discuss the way Colin and the other characters are constructed. What messages does the novel convey about adolescents and their relationships?

  •  

    Identify an inquiry question regarding the construction of the adolescent characters and their relationships. Use information from the text and additional research to explore possible answers or theories. Share your findings with an audience through a spoken or written presentation.

  •  Can you make an anagram (one or more words) from the letters of your given name? Your full name? What if you add in the letters of a partner’s name? Share your favourites with the class.
  •  Authors sometimes make writing choices that seem inappropriate. As you read, find examples of dialogue that are grammatically incorrect. Why would the author write this way? How does it affect your connection to and understanding of the characters?
  •  In teams of two, find three people you know and interview them. Like Hollis, create a four-question interview to learn about the connections your interviewees have to their town or city. Take notes and produce your final product in a Q&A format.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Mathematics
  • Personal Development
  • Science and Technology