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Do you have a type when it comes to dating? Maybe you only go for blondes who like a good game of Dungeons and Dragons, or perhaps you prefer bright brunettes who can speak Spanish and quote The Hunger Games. No matter your preferences, we bet the people you crush on end up having a bit more in common than you'd like to admit. It's cool, though—ain't no shame in the having a type game.
In An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Colin definitely has a type. But he isn't after a particular hair color, personality trait, or hobby—nope, he goes for Katherines. Wait, what? That's right, every girl he's ever dated (all nineteen) is named Katherine and spells her name the exact same way.
If you're already suspicious, good—you should be. There's a reason why Colin keeps dating the same girl, but it's not what you think (don't worry—his mom isn't named Katherine, too). Though Colin claims he doesn't go looking for Katherines, he doesn't know how to have normal relationships with girls—or anyone for that matter—and, after a point in his dating career, decides to only pursue relationships with ladies named Katherine.
Colin's a child prodigy and desperately wants to matter in life. If you're thinking that the label of child prodigy comes with a heaping side of pressure and a pile of angst, then you're right—Colin is constantly studying, reading, and learning, in hopes of one day becoming a genius. Unfortunately for him, though, he seems to miss out on the rest of his life in the process.
An Abundance of Katherines asks us to think about what happens when you grow up and your life isn't the way you thought it would be, which is a pretty darn relatable scenario whether you're a prodigy or not. Perhaps this is why John Green's novel about a whiz kid with a knack for anagramming hit home for so many of us, winning the 2007 Michael L. Printz Honor and becoming a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. No matter what your IQ is, everyone falls short of their dreams sometimes, and it never feels good.
Who are you when no one else is looking? We're not talking about whether you cheated on that math test in third grade or picked your nose in the grocery store one time—we want to know who the real you is. Underneath the preppy façade you put on for your teacher or the tough guy act you put on around your football buddies—deep down inside—who are you?
It's an age-old question, and the perfect one to ask when you're right on the brink of adulthood, deciding what to do with your life. Colin's a child prodigy and a dumpee; Hassan is a Judge Judy-loving slacker; and Lindsey, well, she's not sure—one minute she's a southern belle, the next she's a bubbly ditz, and then she morphs into a nerdy chick.
The thing is, none of the characters in An Abundance of Katherines are sure about who they are, and even the ones who think they know (ahem, Colin) switch it up over the course of the novel. It's easy to judge Lindsey because she's faked it so much that she's one big phony most of the time, but if we're being honest, this shifting around she does is pretty relatable. After all, we've done plenty of shifting-around ourselves, acting one way with our parents, another with our friends, and so on.
Trying on different identities is part of figuring out who you are, though sometimes it makes it hard to keep track of who we really are in our heart of hearts. So we'll ask again, who are you?
How do your break-ups stack up compared to Colin's? Plug them in to his theorem.
An interview with author John Green about why and how the wrote the novel.
If you want to know more about why Green chose nineteen girlfriends, or what the deal with tampon strings is, find out in these FAQs about the book.
John Green doesn't just have ideas about math and relationships—he also has something to say about other topics in his video blog.
No Reading Required
An audio version of the book… read by somebody named Kathryn (way to spice up the spelling).