Study Guide

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines Summary

We've all been there. We're dating the guy or gal of our dreams when suddenly, out of nowhere, we get dumped, leaving us heartbroken, angry, confused, and totally lonely. This isn't the first time this has happened to our main man Colin. In fact, he's been dumped a record nineteen times… and all by girls named Katherine. So he does what any normal teenage guy wants to do when his heart is smashed to smithereens: he goes on a road trip with his buddy, Hassan.

Oh, and did we mention that Colin is a child prodigy who could read by the wee age of two? Because he is, though he's still waiting for his eureka moment to happen, the moment when he makes a big discovery that changes the face of life as we know it. No pressure or anything, though.

Colin's obsessed with reading, languages, and anagramming, which he loves to do night and day; it's super important to Colin that he prove he's not some washed up prodigy, so he reads and studies all the time. His pal Hassan, on the other hand, hasn't even registered for college yet and is perfectly happy sitting around wasting time watching TV.

So the two guys drive and drive and drive, trying to get away from their troubles… but no matter where Colin goes, his girl troubles follow, and he can't get Katherine (a.k.a. K-19) out of his head. They finally come upon a town called Gutshot that claims to have the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When they stop to see it they meet a girl named Lindsey, who just happens to be dating a guy named Colin (a.k.a. TOC). The trio becomes friends and Lindsey's mom, Hollis, even gives the boys a job.

Their mission is to go around town interviewing people about Gutshot and a factory there. Lindsey's great-grandpa, Dr. Fred N. Dinzanfar started a tampon string factory years ago (really), and it's the main place to work in the small town. The boys begin interviewing old folks and factory workers about the town, and notice that Lindsey acts differently around each group of people.

Since Hassan hooks up with a girl named Katrina and spends a lot of his time hanging out with her, Colin and Lindsey grow closer and share their secrets with each other. Lindsey teaches Colin how to tell stories properly (it turns out being a child prodigy doesn't come with a set of social skills), and Colin gets Lindsey to open up about her private habits and thoughts since she always puts on a show for everyone else.

Colin really wants to prove that he's not just a child prodigy, so he begins working on a big complicated math equation. What's it for you ask? Why it plots out romantic relationships, of course, and Colin calls it the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. He works on this almost every night while he's in Gutshot, and finally solves it when he realizes that he broke up with K-3, not the other way around. His whole life has been based on the fact that he gets dumped, so he's pretty shocked when he makes this discovery.

Eventually, he makes another shocking discovery: TOC and Katrina are getting down and dirty, so Lindsey and Hassan break it off with them. And then the whole gang figures out that Hollis has been keeping a big secret of her own, too.

No one is buying from the tampon string factory any more, so Hollis is destroying all the tampon strings. She really wants people in the town to have jobs, so she's working double-time to make sure she can keep the factory open. They are all shocked by the news, and Hassan can't believe how hard Hollis works, which inspires him to register for college.

Then Lindsey and Colin start dating. Colin uses his theorem to predict how long they'll be together, and it comes back saying—wait for it—four days. Just as he predicted, on the 4th day he gets a note from Lindsey breaking it off. Turns out it's one big j/k, though, and Colin finally realizes he can't use a math problem to figure out his love life. Sure, a theorem is great to use for past relationships, but it can't be used to predict the future.

With that, Colin, Lindsey, and Hassan get in the car and just drive. Where to? Nobody knows. They'll figure it out along the way.

  • Chapter 1

    • The first time we meet Colin, he's in the bath, freshly dumped and super depressed about it. The girl he was with was named Katherine, and—get this—she's the nineteenth (yes, 1-9) girl with that name to dump Colin.
    • So it's no surprise the guy is a downer, sitting in his bathtub alone.
    • We also learn that Colin is a child prodigy, and that he wants to have his own eureka moment. He remembers reading that Archimedes made a big discovery in the bath and cried out Eureka!, and he desperately wants to have that moment for himself.
    • After he gets out of the bath, Colin's parents want to talk to him. Uh-oh—this can't be good… parents never ask to talk if they want to share good news. Colin hopes Katherine has called anyway, but knows she won't.
    • It turns out Katherine has called, but not for him. Instead, she called his dad and said she's worried about Colin. They want to make sure he's okay since he doesn't take break-ups all that well.
    • His parents are shocked Katherine broke it off; Colin can't understand it either, and he just wants to be alone.
    • Then he decides to give the old yearbook a gander. He got it a whopping four days ago, and decides to read through everyone's inscriptions. There's the usual stuff (stay cool) and a bunch of references to pupillary sphincter… Shmoop has no idea what that means, but is sounds important and we're hoping Colin'll explain it later on to us.
    • Then he comes to Katherine's inscription which says that she loves him and she'll be his forever. Yeah right, Katherine.
  • Chapter 2

    • Colin is still wallowing in self-pity when his buddy Hassan comes over. Hassan has to pee but is disgusted when he finds Colin's puke in the bathroom. He's outraged that Colin could forget to flush when it comes to something so gross (and frankly, so are we).
    • Hassan's a Muslim and always slipping in comments about what is and isn't haram, which is an Arabic term meaning something is sinful.
    • The two guys chat for a while, and their conversation basically consists of Colin saying he wants to die because Katherine left him and Hassan telling Colin to get over it.
    • But Colin doesn't get over the break-up that easily, though we suspect this has more to do with Colin in general, and less to do with Katherine specifically.
    • We get us a little back-story on Colin's life: he's a prodigy, which means he can learn very quickly, and he's really interested in the distinction between prodigies and geniuses… and he is most certainly, absolutely a prodigy, not a genius.
    • What does all this have to do with Katherine? Colin feels like he was special when he was with her, like he mattered, and now he feels like he's just a washed up prodigy with no girlfriend, no nothing.
    • In short, Colin just wants to matter, and right now he thinks he doesn't.
  • Chapter 3

    • With a fresh break-up and a depressed mood in the bag, Colin figures he should get away. That's right folks—it's road trip time.
    • The trouble is, Colin's parents aren't sold on the idea. His mom wants to know where they're going, how long it will be, why they want to go at all… you know, the usual questions parents have when you want to leave the house.
    • Hassan points out that the road trip isn't about the where, it's about the experience. It's all about the journey, man.
    • Fortunately, Colin's mom seems to get it, but then his dad's all not so fast, weren't you doing to learn Sanskrit this summer? Hmm… road trip or learning a new language. Tough decision.
    • Colin doesn't want to sit at home and learn another language; he wants to go out and do something for once.
    • His dad tells him he's not going to reach his potential going on a silly road trip, but Colin comes back with a boom: he's already wasted it.
    • After Colin and Hassan leave, they have to go to Hassan's house to tell his parents, where they're met with some more friction about their trip.
    • Colin sweetens the deal though, by telling Hassan's mom that they'll get jobs, which gets the boys the green light—Hassan needs to work hard and not sit around watching Judge Judy all day long, after all.
    • And the boys are off.
    • As Colin drives, his mind wanders. He thinks about how he's only ever dated Katherines—same name, same spelling—and how he's also only ever been dumped. Ouch.
    • He comes up with an idea: there are dumpers and dumpees in the world, and you're either one or the other. All relationships end in (1) breakup, (2) divorce, or (3) death, which is a pretty unromantic way to think about things.
    • Then Colin thinks way back to the time he met Katherine—not the one he just dated (K-19), but the very first Katherine.
    • When Colin was a wee little two-year-old, he read the paper one day. His parents were shocked, as you are when your two-year-old kid reads the headline of the Chicago Tribune, so they took him to a psychologist to find out why their toddler could read.
    • The psychologist tested Colin and determined he was a brilliant, amazing, rare child prodigy; his parents should be so proud… but they shouldn't expect him to become a Nobel-prize winning, butt-kicking adult or anything.
    • While the grown-ups talked, Colin played with the blocks, making his very first anagram—rearranging the letters of one word (pots) to make another (stop). He liked this a lot and kept doing it (even into the present day).
    • Colin's parents wanted to capitalize on the whole prodigy thing, so they gave him books to read. After he read The Missing Piece, he and his dad talked about what the book means, and his dad asked him if he was missing a piece, which Colin thought was a very silly question.
    • It turns out being a know-it-all doesn't go over so well with the kids at school, and Colin is teased and pranked by his classmates all the time. His mom tells him they're jealous, but Colin knows better—they just don't like him.
    • So it was a big surprise and relief when Colin got to third grade, and he and a pretty eight-year-old—Katherine 1—began dating. Phew.
  • Chapter 4

    • Back to the future, as Colin and Hassan pull up to Paducha, Kentucky. Hassan has bad breath and wants some toothpaste, but instead, Colin wants to teach Hassan about the proper term for bad breath (which is fetor hepaticus we'll have you know).
    • Hassan tells Colin to cool it, though, that proper terms aren't so interesting and he doesn't really want to hear about it.
    • It might seem mean, but Colin thinks back to when he and Hassan first met, and we understand why the two are friends a little bit more.
    • It was in a tenth grade calculus class, and Hassan had just started school after being home-schooled; for his part, Colin didn't make friends with anyone other than Katherines.
    • One day in class, Colin asked the teacher if he could go to the bathroom because he had an eyelash in his pupillary sphincter. We should tell you that the pupillary sphincter is in the eye, but of course the class thought this was hilarious (so much so, that they wrote it in his yearbook when he graduated from high school).
    • Hassan came up to Colin afterwards and gave him a little talk, letting him know that so long as he said things like pupillary sphincter in class, kids were gonna think he was weird.
    • And that's how Hassan and Colin became friends.
    • Back in Kentucky, the pair talk about how they don't really like it there. Colin's mind goes back to Katherine again and again, and he thinks about how he used to talk about using his Kranial Kidz money to take Katherine to Paris. (For the record, Shmoop has no clue what this Kranial Kidz business is.)
    • They keep driving, and Hassan wants to stop to see the World's Largest Wooden Crucifix but Colin says it reminds him too much of Katherine. This surprises Hassan, since Katherine wasn't religious.
    • It's clear that everything reminds Colin of Katherine, so they keep driving.
  • Chapter 5

    • Two hours later, Colin rattles off a bunch of facts about the World's Largest Wooden Crucifix. Hassan isn't interested, which he straight-up tells Colin.
    • Colin thinks about how Hassan's blunt honesty has actually helped him be a bit more, well, normal.
    • Hassan clues Colin in to the fact that a bunch of his factoids aren't particularly interesting to others, so now Colin knows to zip it when he's around other people. Sure, he might find the largest wooden church's location fascinating, but plenty of other folks do not.
    • Just then, the boys see a sign for the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the next exit. Hmm… that seems highly suspicious, particularly since they are in Tennessee and all. How could the guy that started WWI end up there?
    • Colin thinks it ridiculous, but Hassan figures the guy's gotta go somewhere.
    • They pull off the freeway and head over to check the grave out. Colin calls his mom and—no surprise here—wants to know if Katherine called… not surprisingly, she didn't.
    • The boys ask someone for directions to the gravesite, and a woman tells them it's in Gutshot, or "the sticks" as she calls it.
    • Unsure about whether they actually want to go to somewhere with the name Gutshot, the boys continue anyway. They're supposed to be on an adventure, after all.
    • When they get to Gutshot, they go to a local store and meet a girl reading Celebrity Living who Colin immediately passes off for an uninteresting dud because of her reading material.
    • Since she's the tour guide though, the guys have no choice but to keep talking to her; she introduces herself as Lindsey Lee Wells, and takes them out to an area with long grass (which Colin is allergic to).
    • While they're walking, Colin tells Hassan he should go to college, but Hassan won't hear of it.
    • Now is as good a time as any to anagram, so Colin does just that. He loves it, and gets so busy anagramming that he trips over a molehill right in front of him, falls, and hits his head on a rock.
    • There's blood, and a lot of it. Lindsey wants to stop Colin from bleeding so much, so she asks Hassan for his shirt to put on Colin's head. She's a paramedic, she tells them… Well, she's in training, but close enough.
    • Hassan refuses to give his shirt, so Lindsey uses hers on Colin's head and then runs back to the store to get some supplies.
    • While she's gone, Hassan apologizes to Colin for not giving up his shirt on a silver platter. He's really self-conscious about his man boobs, and Colin gets it.
    • Hassan helps Colin find his glasses, and he says eureka.
    • Colin's mind wanders again, this time back to K-19 dumping him, almost a year into their relationship.
    • It was the day of their graduation, and they went out to sushi to celebrate; they argued about where to park. Colin got all moody about graduating and no longer being a prodigy, but Katherine thought he was overreacting. Sigh.
    • Then Colin asked Katherine if she still loved him. She hated when he asked, but he couldn't help himself. She said she did—phew—but it's the last time she ever said those three little words to him.
    • Katherine quickly changed the subject and asked if sushi could be anagrammed. It sure can: uh, sis. They laughed and played a game they invented called "imagine a situation" that goes like this: Colin anagrams a word, and then Katherine comes up with a situation where that anagram and the original word could be used together.
    • They laughed and Colin thought about how much he loved her.
    • Cut to later that night when she breaks his heart. She's sick of him always talking about being a prodigy and feeling pressured to act like one. Live a little.
    • After she leaves, Colin tries to anagram my missing piece and can't. Aw.
  • Chapter 6

    • Still on the floor from hitting his head, Colin's mind whirls with a bunch of thoughts, some of which he decides to write down. He sketches a graph and he thinks about it representing his relationship with Katherine-19.
    • While all this is happening, Lindsey and Hassan are trying to figure out if he's fine. Lindsey asks the typical what-day-is-it type of questions to see if he's lost his marbles, but Hassan takes a different approach and asks Colin random factoid questions that no normal person would know. Lindsey is super impressed when Colin answers them… although no one really knows if he's correct or not.
    • The conversation turns to Colin's graph in his notebook. He wrote it about his relationship with K-19, but Hassan thinks it will work for any relationship. Woosh (that's the sound of our minds being blown).
    • Colin fills Lindsey in on the fact that he's only ever dated Katherines. Lindsey's all ha, ha, that's funny, but no one realizes why. Then she breaks it to Colin: she's only ever dated one guy… and his name is Colin.
    • Colin takes us back to the third grade, when he only attended school for three hours a day so he had time to visit his Volvo-driving psychology professor/tutor, Keith Carter, a.k.a. Krazy Keith.
    • The guy would let Colin read and then quiz him on the book he picked. Colin lets us in on the fact that he wasn't a genius or anything; he just spent more time studying than everyone else.
    • One day Katherine came to visit her dad (Krazy Keith) and watched Colin study. She asked him why he was reading, studying, and learning Latin, and while Colin could answer easily at first, after a while he too became fascinated with the why. Why was he studying Latin, or reading Ovid?
    • After this why game, Katherine randomly asked Colin if he wanted to go out; he did, so she kissed him.
  • Chapter 7

    • Back at the graveyard, Lindsey leads the way for Colin and Hassan. She gave them the 4-1-1 on how Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a lonely nerd who didn't really matter until he was dead and his death started WWI.
    • Colin doesn't buy that this grave is actually the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand since the Archduke died in Europe.
    • Lindsey's got it figured out, though: Tennessee bought the Archduke so people would come to the state and take this tour.
    • Lindsey gets that Colin is a genius or whatever, but she isn't impressed with all his know-it-all factoids.
    • Just then, Lindsey's friends from school and her boyfriend show up by the gravesite. She goes to greet them while Colin and Hassan brainstorm about who they should pretend to be in front of Lindsey's friends. They decide on French tourists because that's always funny.
    • The gang comes over and Hassan and Colin have some fun by pretending Colin has Tourette syndrome and doesn't know much English. He also had hemorrhoids yesterday, which incidentally is the same word in English and French. Um, okay.
    • Lindsey bursts out laughing and the boys can't keep it in any longer. Colin and Hassan tell the bunch the truth: they are not French tourists.
    • Everyone has a good old laugh and Colin and Hassan give Lindsey's friends names: The Other Colin (TOC), Chase a.k.a. Jeans Are Too Tight (JATT), Fulton a.k.a. Short One Chewing Tobacco (SOCT)—oh yeah, and Katrina (she doesn't get a cool nickname).
    • Lindsey, Colin, and Hassan have to get back to the store so she kisses TOC goodbye. Colin thinks he should name his work The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability and they take off.
    • When they get back to the store, Hollis (Lindsey's mom) is waiting for them, and asks Lindsey where they were. Then she recognizes Colin. Whoa—he's not a celeb or anything, but he was on this show called Kranial Kidz, which Hollis watched. She invites Colin and Hassan over to dinner so she can get the lowdown on the show; she'll drive Hassan in her pink pick up truck, and Lindsey and Colin can ride together in his car.
    • On the way to the house, Lindsey asks Colin about being a genius, and Colin reiterates the difference between geniuses and prodigies. In case it wasn't clear/you'd forgotten, this difference is a big deal to him.
    • Then they pass a textile mill that Lindsey's great-grandpa started and her family owns. Colin asks her about it, but she's embarrassed (remember guys, they make tampon strings). It turns out Colin's not really sure what tampon strings are, or what to say, so they settle into some good old-fashioned awkward silence.
    • When they get to Lindsey's Pepto-Bismol-colored house, Colin is surprised: it's the biggest house he's seen. Ever.
    • As Hollis is making dinner, Colin and Hassan look at old pics of Lindsey, dressed like a mix of a punk-goth gal. She doesn't really want to talk about it.
    • Colin continues working on his theorem. He figures that most people are either dumpers or dumpees, and even if someone has been dumped before, he can still be a dumper if that's what he does the majority of the time.
    • He plugs each one of his relationships into his equation. K-19 works, but K-2 does not.
    • Hmm… he'll have to keep working to get the theorem right… but dinner is ready so he'll have to put his work away until later.
    • At dinner, Hollis asks Colin how it felt to win Kranial Kidz, and he says he was happy to win, but felt bad for the girl he beat because she bummed hard after losing.
    • Then Hollis lets them in on why she invited them to dinner: she wants to hire them. Colin is startled because, well, not everyone is looking to hire a prodigy. He doesn't get much in his line of work.
    • She's willing to pay Hassan and Colin five hundred bucks a week, plus room and board, to interview people in the town.
    • Both the boys are shocked, but after having a little talk about it, they decide they'll accept Hollis's offer.
    • Then they play Scrabble, which Colin has never played, but of course is amazing at.
    • After the game, Colin returns to his theorem—he's just got to crack it.
    • Lindsey fills Colin in on the goth-meets-punk-meets-nerd look she had going in her eighth grade photo. The story goes like this: she was ugly and insecure so she went for a style that her classmates didn't understand and couldn't mock. It looks like Colin's not the only one who didn't fit in at school.
    • In the middle of her story, Colin interrupts her. This is a big no-no, and Lindsey tells him to zip it when others are telling stories.
    • The two share a moment about telling stories, but Colin can't really manage to get the hang of it—he clumsily tells her about a time a lion almost bit off his penis.
    • During their conversation, Lindsey keeps biting her thumb, but when Colin asks her about it she says it's her private habit.
    • Way back when, Katherine-1 kissed Colin and then promptly broke up with him, which he didn't really understand. Later on he realized that his little mini relationship with K-1 sparked the whole Katherine Phenomenon though.
  • Chapter 8

    • Cock-a-doodle-do—Colin is woken up by roosters, which he's never heard before since he grew up in a city (Chicago, to be exact).
    • Hassan is up too and the guys chit-chat while they get ready. It's the normal conversation between them: Colin ribs Hassan about going to college, Hassan finally has enough and snaps at Colin.
    • The two decide they should have a mercy word for when their ribbing gets out of hand, and the word they choose is dingleberries. Colin likes it because it's an anagrammatic jackpot.
    • They wait for Lindsey to get ready and Hollis tells them they'll be interviewing people around town about life in Gutshot.
    • The trio are off, and Lindsey wants to be dropped off at the store so she can hang out with her boyfriend. When she calls him Colin, Hassan flips—that dude's the other Colin (TOC), thankyouverymuch. This is Colin—don't mix them up.
    • Lindsey, Colin, and Hassan arrive at Starnes's house for the interview; he's got cancer and has a jaw missing, but greets them all kindly.
    • As the interview gets underway, Colin thinks back to K-19 and what he calls the Rejection Minimization Theorem.
    • This theorem says that in any relationship the person who is least likely to get rejected should make the first move when it comes to kissing. Usually this person is the girl, since guys always like kissing (Shmoop wonders how this applies in same-sex relationships).
    • When he was first hanging out with K-19, he wanted to kiss her but didn't know if she wanted him to, so he waited and waited.
    • One day they went to a movie and found themselves alone in the theater at the end, talking about why he's so smart and what he's good at. When he showed her his mad anagramming skills, she thought it was cool.
    • Then she asked if there was anything else he was good at, and he told her kissing—very smooth, Colin—and we figure out by her last name that K-19 is actually K-1 as well.
  • Chapter 9

    • Over at Starnes's place (which doesn't have air-conditioning, mind you), the interview is underway. Colin gets bored listening to Starnes's stories about when he came to Gutshot and when he started at the factory, though it turns out Starnes worked at the factory longer than anybody—sixty years to be exact. They even named the break room after him.
    • Starnes has nothing but nice things to say about Lindsey's family. Her great-grandpa, Dr. Dinzanfar, and his son-in-law Corville Wells were always fair to him. The only one Starnes doesn't like is Lindsey's dad, Alex, who we gather is out of the picture now.
    • Starnes also tells them about the time he was arrested for shooting his neighbor's pet snake. He didn't know it was her pet; he went into her house and there the snake was, so he shot it. Too bad people don't like when you shoot their pets, so he spent two nights in jail for that.
    • Then in 1944, he married a good lady named Mary (she died of a heart attack in 1997).
    • Starnes didn't want to go to war, so he shot himself in the foot. He tried to make it look like an accident, but everyone knew and thought he was a coward; Starnes points out that everyone is a coward, though.
    • Colin notices that Lindsey uses a thick accent when around Starnes, and he wonders why that is.
    • The trio leave Starnes's house and Lindsey wants to be dropped off at the store so she can hang out with TOC.
    • The boys are hot and sweaty, and wish they could go in the air-conditioning. Lindsey jokes about Colin's smarty-pants thing being unbearable and he gets majorly touchy—Hassan tells Lindsey that's because Katherine called him unbearable and it reminds him of her.
    • Dingleberries, Colin chimes in. And that settles it.
    • They drop Lindsey off, but after a while they get bored of killing time so they head on back to the general store. Lindsey's there, sitting on TOC's lap, and he takes the opportunity to warn Colin and Hassan to steer clear of Lindsey… or else. And then, just in case they didn't follow, he spells it out for them: he'll kill them if they touch Lindsey. What a charmer.
    • Hassan and Colin leave, and Hassan points out that Lindsey is bubbly around TOC but she's more one of the guys with them. Hmm… is anyone else noticing a trend?
    • While they wait, Hassan and Colin talk over Lindsey and Katherine. Hassan doesn't go for girls with big noses, and he can't date Katherine because of his religion, so she's out. Colin wants to call Katherine, but Hassan thinks that's just about the worst idea he's ever heard (Shmoop agrees).
    • Then the boys decide that Hassan will fake an asthma attack so they can go back to the pink mansion and relax.
    • When Hassan goes around wheezing, Lindsey comes over to help, but doesn't like the idea of going home—Hollis freaks out when people interrupt her workday.
    • Sure enough, when they get home, Hollis is on the phone, talking about how her product is American and people want that.
    • She gets ticked when they come in the house, but then mellows out when she sees Hassan is having an asthma attack.
    • They eat dinner and Colin calls his parents to fill them in on where he is and what he's doing. They're not so thrilled with the idea of him staying with strangers, but he tells them he's totally fine; his mom asks him if he's happy, and he claims he's happier here at least.
    • Later that night, Colin overhears Hassan and Lindsey talking about him. She wants to know how he knows so much, so Hassan fills her in: when Colin reads something, he finds everything interesting—not just the stuff normal peeps might think more about—and he attacks learning differently from everyone else.
    • For instance, when Colin wanted to learn typing, he didn't take a typing course like a normal person might—nope, he went and retyped all of Shakespeare's plays. And then Catcher in the Rye to boot. Talk about overkill.
    • Colin isn't sure how he feels about the two of them talking about him; while what Hassan says is true, he doesn't understand why they're talking about it.
    • Then Colin talks to Lindsey for a while. He tells her about his theorem, but she doesn't think geometry can predict relationships—to her, it's real life, not math.
    • Again, Colin muses over the Katherines and thinks about the fact that he keeps repeating the same cycle over and over by falling in love with Katherines.
    • It occurs to him that no one likes dumpees. It's so boring and annoying talking about how you're not cool enough to keep a girlfriend, so no one wants to hear it.
  • Chapter 10

    • When the boys wake up the next morning, a note from Hollis is waiting for them. It says their interview with Starnes was good, but too long if they ask everyone those questions.
    • Instead, she wants the boys to ask just 4 questions: (1) Where would you live if you could live anywhere? (2) What would you do for a living if you didn't work for the factory? (3) When did your people come to the country? (4) What do you think makes Gutshot special? It's as simple as that.
    • They head off to the Gutshot textiles factory with Lindsey and meet up with an employee named Zeke, who tells them about his life and how he likes the free Coke machine. Shmoop loves a cold Coke too, but we're not sure that qualifies as the most special thing in our lives.
    • After the interview with Zeke, Lindsey heads on over to the store to hook up with TOC, while the boys stayed behind to interview twenty-six other people at the factory, asking the same four questions over and over.
    • One lady asks Colin why the shower curtain always blows inside while she's in the shower; he explains the vortex to her and she's all impressed.
    • He asks her name, and she says Katherine Layne. Right away, Hassan knows he's in for a ride with Colin's obsessions with Katherine, but Colin doesn't feel anything—he's still hung up on K-19. Phew?
    • After the boys leave the factory, Colin decides to call K-19. Hassan thinks it's not such a good idea, but Colin doesn't listen and calls anyway.
    • He leaves a sappy message for K-19, reminiscing about the good-old days.
    • Then he gets a call—it's coming from K-19 and he's psyched. Turns out she hasn't listened to the message though, and instead is calling back to let him know that she thinks they should keep their distance from each other for a while. Colin is crushed.
    • He lets us in on a secret: he doesn't miss K-19 as much as he misses what he thought they would have in the future together. He misses that.
    • Colin tells Lindsey and Hassan he wants to cry and let it all out, but he's afraid it'll sounds like a "bulldog's mating call." No really—he actually says that, and everyone laughs.
    • Back at home, Colin works on the theorem until 11:00PM, and then he asks Lindsey if she has a match so he can burn his work.
    • Wait, what?
    • That's right, he wants to burn his work because he thinks it makes him look like a genius.
    • Katherine asks him about the theorem and he explains the concept to her. Step 1: Figure out if someone is a dumper or dumpee. Step 2: Plug that into the formula. Step 3: Determine how long the relationship will be.
    • There's only one problem—the theorem doesn't really work. Lindsey thinks it's cool all the same though.
  • Chapter 11

    • At this point, we're told Hassan and Colin have been in Gutshot for five nights. Hassan decides to go out cruising with Lindsey while Colin stays behind to read—he's so far behind in his work.
    • Hassan tells him to live a little, but Colin throws that back in his face and they get in a petty argument about what they're doing with their lives.
    • Colin says that Hassan sits around like a slacker, doing nothing, but Colin wants to learn and grow; Hassan thinks that's an overstatement and doesn't get why Colin has to read all the time and never have any fun.
    • After Hassan and Lindsey leave, Colin thinks about—you guessed it—Katherine. This time he's thinking about what happened with Kranial Kidz.
    • He went on the show and won $10,000 because Krazy Keith had been contacted about knowing a prodigy after writing articles on Colin.
    • One day, Katherine showed up and asked Colin for help studying French. She didn't want to bomb her test the next day and disappoint her dad (a.k.a. Krazy Keith), so since Colin was on Kranial Kidz, maybe he could help her.
    • The only issue was he was maybe, sort-of going on a date with this chick named Marie. He didn't know if she liked him or what, but he let her down easy, just in case—this was the closest he ever came to dumping someone.
    • Now he could go out to coffee with Katherine.
  • Chapter 12

    • When Colin wakes up, it's not just the rooster he can hear—it's also the sound of Hassan's prayers.
    • Hassan tells Colin he hasn't seen the love of his life—Judge Judy—for twelve days. Can he imagine such a thing? Oh right—there's that whole business with Colin loving Katherine and being heartbroken. Whoops.
    • Hassan doesn't really want to go to work today, but they live with the boss, so they can't really call in sick, right?
    • Wrong—Colin points out that Hollis is at the factory on Thursdays, so she won't notice.
    • Colin brings up Hassan going to college again, and gets told dingleberries faster than he can say anything more.
    • Colin runs into Hollis downstairs, and it turns out he was right (as usual)—she is going in to the factory today. He tells her Hassan has a sinus infection, so he can't work today.
    • Hollis sends Lindsey and Colin to visit what she calls "the oldsters"; since the factory interviews are done, they've got to interview retired workers and stuff.
    • Lindsey takes a while to get ready, and Hassan watches Saturday Night Live reruns while Colin waits. When she comes downstairs, she asks the boys why they always say fug all the time. What's the deal?
    • They tell her it's from The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. The story goes that Mailer wrote the book with loads of f-bombs in it, but the publisher wouldn't have it, so he changed them all to fug instead. That way people would still read it, and he could keep his language (sort of).
    • So Colin says it in homage to Mailer, though there's also the added benefit that no one gets mad at you for saying fug.
    • Lindsey likes the story, praises Colin for finally telling one, and then they're off.
    • On the way to the interview, Colin and Lindsey swap stories about life. Colin wants to matter, but Lindsey doesn't really care if she does or not.
    • Then she points out his magic formula for relationships is missing some variables like age.
    • Colin thinks she's right and makes a list of other variables that might happen in a relationship: Age, Popularity Differential, Attractiveness Differential, Dumper/Dumpee Differential, Introvert/ Extrovert Differential.
    • He comes up with a new formula, based on these variables, and—voila—it works… sort of. It might not work with everyone, but he's getting closer.
    • They arrive at the nursing home and visit with Jolene, and then a bunch of other oldsters. Lindsey certainly knows how to charm answers out of these folks.
    • Jolene mentions that Hollis is selling two hundred acres of her land to a guy named Marcus, which shocks Lindsey. She can't believe it—why would her mom do that?
    • Colin suggests Hollis might be doing it for the money, but Lindsey says that's can't be right because they don't need money on account of her great-grandpa having built the factory.
  • Chapter 13

    • While Hassan cruises around town with Lindsey, Katrina, TOC, JATT, and SOCT, Colin stays behind at home to work on his theorem; he's gotten it to work for everyone but K-3 and K-19.
    • One night Hassan comes home with some juicy gossip of his own: he kissed Katrina.
    • OMG, this is huge news. Colin can't believe it—he doesn't get why Hassan would go and do that when he's only supposed to kiss a girl he's going to marry (because of his religion).
    • The two get in a huge fight about it. Hassan is ticked that Colin reacted this way, and feels like he finally has a story of his own to tell but Colin ruined it.
    • The next day the boys complete some interviews, but they're still annoyed with each other and when they get home, Colin tells Hassan to quit making fun of him all the time.
    • Hassan lets Colin know that he feels like he's listened to him whine about Katherines a million times, and he's upset that Colin can't be supportive of him now.
    • The two duke it out some more, until finally Colin tells Hassan what's really bothering him: Hassan referred to TOC as Colin. This is a big deal to Colin who wants to be original and not just re-type or anagram everything in life.
    • Hassan gets it and knows he messed up, so he apologizes.
    • At the store, the two guys talks about Hassan's date that night. TOC is there too and he invites Hassan to go hunting with them next weekend; then he's gotta scram because he's going bowling with his buddies.
    • Lindsey chimes in that she likes bowling—hint, hint—but TOC leaves without her. She pretends to pout until he leaves, and then she decides to take Colin out that night instead.
    • The three of them head back to the house, where they find Hollis, annoyed that they are home before 5:30PM; they'd figured it would be okay since they're all going out that night.
    • Lindsey confronts her mom about selling the land, but Hollis brushes it off.
    • Colin works on the theorem and finally gets it to work right for K-19, which leaves K-3 as his only problem. Every single time he's worked on the graph for K-3, it's said he dumped her, which is ridiculous since he knows she dumped him.
    • He doesn't have time to figure this all out, though, because he and Lindsey leave for dinner.
    • She takes him to Taco Hell to get food, and then out to the field to practice shooting—he's never used a gun before, and she doesn't want his first time to be in front of TOC and the gang.
    • Colin asks about a fence, and Lindsey tells him her horse used to use it. Her father gave it to her mom as a wedding gift and, after he beat it, her mom gave it to her.
    • She teaches him how to shoot and get used to the kick back—she doesn't want him to look weak. Then she tells him about a top-secret hideout that no one knows about that she goes to when she wants to be completely alone; she asks if he wants to see it.
    • Colin thinks back to getting coffee with Katherine. She asked him about Pythagoras and told him that he believed math could unlock everything (hmmm…sounds like someone else we know).
    • Then Colin thinks about how K-1 became K-19 and took the throne that was hers all along. Yep—that's how he describes it.
  • Chapter 14

    • Deep in the forest, Lindsey and Colin approach her sanctuary. She tells him about his stories being off—even when he's talking about someone else, it's still all about him.
    • Then she switches the conversation to Katherine. Lindsey imagines what she'd be like, and she surmises that Katherine is mean and that's what guys want. She even got TOC that way. Katrina was with him for a while, but she's too easy—guys really go for more complex, meaner girls.
    • Colin says it's not so easy for him since no one likes him.
    • Wait a minute there, mister. Lindsey doesn't agree—she and Hassan like him, and they don't like anybody. The trick, then, is that he's just got to find people that don't like people. Yeah, that should be easy.
    • They go inside the cave that Lindsey found one day while hiking in the eighth grade. It's so dark in there that they can't even see each other; Lindsey feels invisible but with Colin.
    • Colin and Lindsey drink some moonshine she got from a local and feel their way around in the dark.
    • Then Lindsey tells Colin a story and, if Shmoop can be honest, it's a refreshing change after hearing so much about Colin.
    • When she was in third grade, TOC and his pals called Lindsey a dog. Then one Valentine's Day he gave her a gift, and she got really excited that someone was finally nice to her, but when she opened it up, it was a can of dog food.
    • Colin feels bad for her and then they wonder whether people could actually love one another if they knew all these memories about each other.
    • Lindsey says she's full of it, that she pretends to be one thing with one group of people and another with a different group. Whereas Colin's worried about not mattering, she makes herself matter by fitting in with everyone—she can be funny, bubbly, southern… whatever anyone wants.
    • They sit together in silence and then talk some more about their lives—even though Lindsey fakes her way through life, she lets Colin see the real her. She takes him to her cave and bites her thumb in front of him, even though it's private.
    • The pair decides to go home and sneak up on Hollis to find out what she's up to. When they get there, they hear fragments of a phone conversation; Hollis is telling someone named Roy to throw some stuff away, but it's not clear what. It's all going down on Thursday.
    • Colin and Lindsey go in the house and Hollis greets them, clearly distracted by whatever's going on.
    • Hassan gets home all excited about his date… or kissing his date, we should say. His lips are even sore from all the sucking face (so he claims), and he's pretty excited about the fact that Katrina is a college girl.
    • Everyone heads to bed, but not before Colin sneaks into Hassan's room to get the deets on his date. The two share everything that happened to them that night, minus the cave with Lindsey since Colin thinks that's super private.
    • Hassan muses that if Colin's theorem works, he can predict how long a relationship will last. He better get it to work then.
  • Chapter 15

    • It's awkward between Lindsey and Colin—you just can't just show someone your super-secret hiding place and talk about the meaning of life without a follow-up.
    • But then there is the issue of Lindsey's boyfriend: she is still with TOC and Colin has to work on his theorem, so they both have stuff to do.
    • Plus everyone is preparing for the Feral Hog Hunt in town. Instead of preparing outside though, Colin has taken up reading about feral hogs instead because, well, that's just how he rolls.
    • On the morning of the hog hunt, Colin rises before the rooster, gets ready, and has a meeting with Hassan in the kitchen about hogs. Hassan can't even eat pig, so he's not sure he'll kill one.
    • And they're off.
    • They meet up with the camouflaged crew (TOC, JATT, SOCT, and others), and inside the lodge SOCT gives Hassan and Colin the same pants and orange vests as everyone else.
    • First things first, JATT has a question about where he can shoot them: is it okay if he aims for the nuts? No way, no how says Mr. Lyford, a man Colin recognizes from their factory interviews.
    • The men go off with their guns, and no one speaks too much because that will deter the hogs. Mr. Lyford is pretty gun-ho (get it?) about tracking the hogs down and thinks they're on the trail, but Colin wants to slow down. Mr. Lyford goes on ahead, and the boys are thankful not to do as much hunting as walking.
    • Hassan asks for the mini recorder and says into it that hog hunting is so slow and boring; and then he falls asleep for a couple hours. Naturally, Colin's mind shifts to his theorem—he still can't get it to work for K-3, which bugs him.
    • Finally Hassan wakes up and Colin fills him in on what's going on. Then Hassan suggests that Colin call K-3 to make sure he's got all the facts straight, so he does.
    • And do you know what K-3 tells him? K-3 tells him that he broke up with her.
    • Colin can't believe it—being dumped by Katherines is kind of his thing, after all. He's the dumpee, and he can't believe he didn't remember this about his break-up with K-3 because his memory is his shining glory.
    • He calls K-3 back and says sorry for breaking up with her, that he hopes he didn't hurt her feelings. She's really nice about it—sure, he broke her heart, but it was a long time ago.
    • Colin is shocked by this revelation, but he can't focus on that because there's a brown-gray creature in front of them. The boys freak out. Is it a hog? A grizzly bear? What is it? Finally, Colin shoots it.
    • Then they notice something is coming out of the creature… and that something is hornets. Colin just shot a hornets nest.
    • The boys run and fast—they've got to get away from the hornets. Hassan incorrectly calls them bees, and Colin points out he'd know the difference if he went to college. Do we hear dingleberries? Yep, we do.
    • The boys are running downhill and they finally come to a stop at the graveyard. But the surprise of the day isn't over: there in front of them is Katrina—naked—with a guy.
  • Chapter 16

    • Instead of crying or getting angry at the fact that he caught his girlfriend in the act with another guy, Hassan laughs, runs down the hill a bit more, and yells out to Katrina that he's breaking up with her. That's certainly one way to deal with it.
    • Colin can't believe Hassan is laughing about all this, but Hassan doesn't take much seriously. He thinks it's funny that his (now) ex is getting it on in a graveyard, right next to the grave of the Archduke.
    • Oh—and to top it all off, the guy Katrina is with is TOC.
    • Hassan and Colin confront TOC about his girlfriend, Lindsey, and TOC says he and Katrina were dating before and just wanted to get together again before they broke it off. So it doesn't count as cheating, TOC reckons.
    • Colin threatens to tell Lindsey what he saw, and TOC asks if they would want to know if a girlfriend cheated on them.
    • This questions gets to Colin, and he starts thinking about whether he'd want to know or not. While he's contemplating, Lindsey, SOCT, and JATT show up, and everyone checks in with each other.
    • Did anyone even shoot a hog? Nope, but JATT and SOTC got a squirrel.
    • It's time for a drink, and this time even Colin has a beer, though Hassan does not. Colin replays what he just saw over and over again.
    • He can't take it anymore. He takes out the mini recorder—which was on the whole time—and presses play for Lindsey; she can hear what TOC said for herself.
    • She tells TOC where he can stick it, and then he grabs her before she can walk away. Colin and JATT run to her rescue and tell TOC to back off, then Hassan joins in and they punch TOC when he doesn't cooperate.
    • In all the commotion, JATT gets knocked down, and SOCT says TOC is ridiculous for doing this to Lindsey.
    • Colin can't really fight so much as slap, but he tries anyway, and then he throws up.
    • TOC is ticked but doesn't really want to go near someone else's up-chuck. Colin faints and when he comes to, he sees Lindsey fixing up Hassan's wounds; to dull his own pain, he starts anagramming (naturally). Since he's on the Archduke's grave, he starts with that—he notices a coincidence but doesn't tell us what it is.
  • Chapter 17

    • The next morning everyone's sore from the fight. Their assignment for the day is to interview an old woman named Mabel Bartrand—Lindsey's not really up for it, but Hassan thinks she can probably use the company.
    • The three go out to the assisted living facility where Mabel is and she smiles when she sees them.
    • She recognizes Lindsey and the two chat a bit; Lindsey has tears in her eyes and seems really moved.
    • They start the interview and Mabel talks about Dr. Dinzanfar and penny candy. She's a bit confused, and Lindsey abruptly says they should cut the interview short—but don't worry, she'll be by to visit Mabel soon.
    • The old lady is very kind and Hassan notes that this is definitely not funny. Colin's confused—why does everything have to be funny to that guy? Dingleberries, says Hassan. Shmoop senses a pattern of that word popping up whenever it gets serious.
    • That night, Colin works on the theorem and finally finishes it—now that he knows what really happened with K-3, it was easy.
    • He goes and tells Lindsey and Hassan, who are pleased. They ask if it will work for any two people, so he tries it out on Lindsey and TOC. It works and Lindsey is relieved. Hassan says he doesn't want to be a party pooper, but guys like TOC and Katherines dump people a lot, so who cares.
    • Then Colin claims it will work on a relationship that hasn't happened yet.
    • But the real news is that Hassan was just online looking at colleges and he registered for two classes. Go, Hassan, go.
  • Chapter 18

    • That night Colin sleeps through the rooster, and only wakes up when Lindsey jumps on the bed telling him they're going to Memphis to spy on Hollis.
    • They figure out directions and head out. Colin notices that Hassan is already over Katrina, and Lindsey is over TOC, but he takes forever to get over Katherines.
    • Even though he doesn't really want to be with K-19 anymore, he wants her to call.
    • When they get to their supposed location, they're all a bit confused—they don't really know what's there, or what Hollis would be doing there.
    • They see a guy with a bulldozer and a forklift putting stuff in a big hole. When Colin gets close, he asks the guy if he works for Gutshot Textiles.
    • Sure enough, he does—but he doesn't want to answer any questions about what he's throwing down in the hole.
    • Colin goes to grab what's in the box, and a bunch fall out: tampon strings here, there, and everywhere.
    • Lindsey comes up to the guy and asks him what he's doing, and the guy says she looks just like her mom before introducing himself as Roy. (Hey, wasn't Hollis on the phone with a Roy?)
    • But even with Lindsey there, Roy doesn't want to answer any questions; he tells Lindsey to ask her mom what's happening.
    • She's really confused, and chats with Colin and Hassan about what's happening, but none of them can figure out what to make of it.
    • Then Hollis shows up. She fills Lindsey in: Roy is throwing away boxes of their tampon strings because no one is buying the product any more, but Hollis wants to keep running the factory so people have jobs. Without the factory, Gutshot will die, so she's got Roy dumping the tampon strings so no one at the factory suspects anything.
    • That's why Hollis wanted the boys to go around asking people about the factory and why it's important. Years from now, there'll be no factory, and Hollis wants there to be a record of it somewhere.
    • Lindsey feels all kinds of emotions at once. She's angry that her mom didn't tell her sooner, shocked about what's happening, sad they're losing the product and factory. Oh—and she's kind of impressed that her mom is working so hard to keep jobs for people alive.
    • She rides back with her mom and the boys go together. While they're driving, Hassan says he never does anything and that he's lazy.
    • Colin reminds him that he just registered for two college classes, though, and Hassan responds by saying maybe he should register for one more.
  • Chapter 19

    • When Colin and Hassan get home to the pink mansion, Lindsey is not there. Hollis says she's gone to stay at her friend Janet's house, which Colin thinks is a secret message for him.
    • He tells everyone he's going camping and heads out before anyone can object.
    • Colin gets to Lindsey's secret hiding place in the woods, and luckily, she's there. Phew—she's not actually at someone's house.
    • She welcomes him and they talk about TOC and the breakup. Lindsey figures TOC isn't even real, but just some boring dupe, so she's decided not to care about him.
    • Colin envies that. He wishes he could get over stuff so easily, but he's really self-centered. They have a contest over who is more self-centered and joke around.
    • Then Colin announces he's figured out who's actually buried in the Archduke's tomb: her great-grandpa, Fred N. Dinzanfar.
    • Yep, he's right. Lindsey likes the fact that not everyone knows it though, so it's as if it's become true that it's the Archduke.
    • Colin fills her in on the fact that he dumped one of the Katherines. So you are a storyteller then, Lindsey counters, and asks for a good-old-fashioned story with romance and a touch of adventure.
    • He tells her about the Katherines, 1-19, rattling through them really quickly. The highlights? He dated K-1 for about two-and-a-half minutes when they were young and she dumped him just as fast. Then came along K-2, through a girl named Amy who set them up and then dumped Colin on K-2's behalf—in fairness, they were only eight at the time.
    • Next came K-3, and we already know that story. K-4 was a violin-playing redhead who dumped him for a piano-playing prodigy, and K-5 was a nasty girl who kissed him—on the lips—on the playground while he was reading. The next day she dumped him though.
    • Colin met K-6 at smart-kid camp and was with her for seventeen days (a record in his book), but she dumped him because he wasn't good at pottery and push-ups, even though she was.
    • When he was in middle school, he caught the attention (or pity) of K-7, a.k.a. pizza face as she was known. After a month, she broke it off because Colin was ruining her reputation (which is saying something since it wasn't all that hot to begin with).
    • K-8 was a heartbreaker who asked him out and dumped him just as fast, and K-9 was a really pretty sixth grader who dated Colin while he was in seventh. She wanted to climb the social ladder by dating an older guy—too bad no one thought Colin was cool.
    • By the time K-10 rolled around, Colin was dedicated to only pursuing Katherines. He ran in front of K-10's arrow at an archery course and said Cupid had shot him.
    • Colin admits K-11 wasn't much of a girlfriend, and K-12 thought Colin was similar to Holden in The Catcher in the Rye and dated him for twenty-five days. She broke it off because she wanted a guy who wasn't so interested in languages and reading.
    • In tenth grade Colin wooed and scored with K-13, whom he loved and who loved him back. She eventually broke up with him because he was too smart and too dumb for her, which kind of makes sense when you think about how socially awkward Colin is.
    • Then came K-14—they met at a coffee shop and went walking along the lake together—and then K-15, a feminist who liked Colin's mind.
    • K-16 and Colin met at the Academic Decathlon, where she broke up with him because she didn't want to breakup with her boyfriend back home. Next came K-17, who Colin met on the internet and who broke up with him because he wasn't emo enough; K-18 met him at a concert and broke up with him in an email after two dates.
    • And that brings us to K-19, who was actually K-1. The pair dated for three hundred and forty-three days, until she broke up with him randomly.
    • Once Colin's finished running through his dating history, he says that it's more about what you remember happening, rather than what actually happened—after a while, your memories become all you have.
    • Lindsey thinks about how he's grown in telling stories, that he's so much better at it now.
    • Then they kiss… and again in the driveway when they get home.
  • Epilogue

    • When Colin wakes up, he talks to Hassan about some profit and loss margins Hollis is working on. Then Hassan asks about whether Colin and Lindsey got together last night.
    • Colin was happy until he plugged his relationship with Lindsey into the theorem and figures out she'll dump him in four days.
    • Sure enough, three days later he gets a note from Lindsey: She's breaking up with him… just kidding (no really—that's what the note says).
    • The next day, while playing Texas Hold 'Em, Colin figures out that his theorem can't actually predict what will happen in a relationship—it can only apply to a past relationship, and with a new romance, there are too many variables to account for.
    • Eureka, he says.
    • They decide to go to Thickburger, and on the way, Lindsey grabs Colin's hand and pecks him on the lips.
    • Colin feels alive and the trio thinks they could really go anywhere. They get on the road and drive—past Thickburger, and on. They don't really know where they are going, but they keep driving.
  • Appendix

    • The appendix isn't even written by John Green—he asked his friend, Daniel Biss, to write it about the math in the book. It unpacks what happens in Colin's Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, using math.
    • There's a bunch of graphs, a lot of formulas, and a whole lot of math behind what Colin works on.
    • Check it out if you're in to that sort of thing. We'll just take Biss's word for it.