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Literature / An Abundance of Katherines

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Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.

An Abundance of Katherines is a young adult novel written by John Green. It tells the story of Colin, a recent high school graduate whose girlfriend Katherine has just dumped him. This is made even more traumatic because Colin has dated no fewer than 19 girls named Katherine, all of whom dumped him.

Colin's friend, Hassan, talks him into going on a road trip to take his mind off the pain of losing yet another Katherine. They end up in a small town known as Gutshot, Tennessee, and quickly find themselves at the home of a woman who runs a textile factory which manufactures tampon strings (which is the main source of income for the town). She has a daughter named Lindsey, who is smart and funny and has "a smile that could stop wars and cure cancer," but (1) Colin is definitely not interested and (2) Lindsey already has a boyfriend (named Colin) note . Colin and Hassan quickly become friends with Lindsey and start having all sorts of strange adventures.

Contains examples of:

  • Applied Mathematics: Colin's attempts at graphing his relationships with the Katherines. The longest equation contains the variables age (A), Popularity Differential (C), Attractiveness Differential (H), Dumper/Dumpee Differential (D), and Introvert/Extrovert Differential (P).
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Averted. The book contains a good number of different languages, all of which are completely correct grammatically and otherwise.
  • Bee Afraid: Making a feral pig hunting trip even worse.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Oh, boy. Though the story is mainly written in English, Colin is a polyglot and converses with other characters in a variety of languages (including German, French and Arabic).
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Hassan is implied to be this. He skipped a grade and got a 5 on at least one of his AP exams, but he spends most of his time watching television re-runs and doesn't want to go to college.
  • Dude Magnet: Lindsay appears to have become this after her popular girl makeover in middle school.
  • Ethical Slut: Katrina is portrayed as this until it's discovered that she cheated on Hassan with TOC.
  • First Girl Wins: Played with. We see Katherine XIX. We see Katherine I. About halfway through the book, it's revealed that they are one and the same. On a normal timeline of the story, it is subverted because Katherine XIX dumps Colin, but since some of the events are revealed out of order it has a zig-zagged effect.
    • Also played straight: While visiting the tampon factory, Colin meets an attractive girl named Katherine—but he's already decided he's fallen in love with Lindsey.
  • Footnote Fever: The book contains a large number of footnotes, usually containing strange-but-true facts that are irrelevant to the story note 
  • Foreign Cuss Word: In order of appearance: sitzpinkler (German: wimp/a man who sits to pee), kafir (Arabic: infidel), merde (French: shit), and paardenlul (Dutch: horse's penis).
  • Gag Penis: Hassan claims to have one. Since he's saving himself for marriage, the truth of the matter remains unknown.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Sort of. Colin's "type" is "not physical but linguistic". He likes Katherines. No nicknames or alternative spellings.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Hassan is a good person and a pretty good friend, but he often uses a slew of insults and profanity to get his points across to Colin.
  • Has a Type: Colin for Katherines.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Colin was holding out hope for him and Katherine XIX to be this. They're not, at least not within the timeframe of the story.
  • Homeschooled Kids: Colin, until first grade. Hassan, until high school.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Colin was this to Katherine XIX, often asking her to remind him that he was still smart and that she still loved him. This, in part, led to their break-up.
  • Odd Name Out : Out of all the girlfriends that Colin's ever had so far, Lindsey winds up being the only one (and the first) who is not called Katherine at the end of the book.
  • Omniglot: Colin, to an extent. Justified in that he's a child prodigy who learned many of the languages at a very young age.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Colin and Hassan refer to Lindsey's boyfriend as "TOC" (The Other Colin); her other friends are JATT (Jeans Are Too Tight) and SOCT (Short One Chewing Tobacco).
  • Pair the Spares: Hassan and Katrina, Lindsey's only female friend. They break up when Colin and Hassan catch Katrina cheating with TOC.
  • Serial Romeo: Maybe not every week, but Colin has dated more girls named Katherine than he's had years in his life.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Lindsay was a scrawny, allegedly "ugly" child, but when she started working to attain popularity and conventional good looks the boys in her town had this reaction.
  • Shout-Out: A John Green book where the main character makes numbered lists and is on an extended road trip launched by love?
  • Shown Their Work: The Hardcover Edition features an appendix where John Green (with the help of a Ph.D mathematician!) actually works out Colin's love formulas.
  • Significant Anagram: When Colin discovers Archduke Franz Ferdinand is an anagram of Fred N. Dinzanfar Lindsey's great-grandfather
  • Significant Name Overlap: All of Colin's 19 ex-girlfriends are named Katherine, and each of them ended up dumping him. He then meets a possible new love interest named Lindsey, but she initially has a boyfriend, who coincidentally is also named Colin (thereafter nicknamed "The Other Colin" or TOC).
  • Teen Genius: Colin worries that he isn't one. "Prodigies learn. Geniuses do."
  • Translation Convention: Averted. The dialogue is in Arabic and German at times note 
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Occasionally, but always within conventional chapters, with the exception of (epilogue, or the lindsey lee wells chapter). They take the form of The End (of the End) and The Middle (of the Beginning). Also, there are as many numbered chapters as there are Katherines.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Fug, an obvious stand-in for a certain word. Lampshaded by Lindsey and explained by Colin, in-universe.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The author had someone else (Professional Mathematician Daniel Biss) come up with the mathematical formulas in the book, but a few mistakes still slipped through.

An Abundance of Katherines was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book. When author John Green received news of this, he proceeded to do his happy dance. This footage can be found on Youtube.