An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines
Author John Green
Country United States
Language English
Genre Young adult novel
Publisher Dutton and Speak
Publication date
September 21, 2006
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 256 pp
ISBN 0-525-47688-1
OCLC 65201178
LC Class PZ7.G8233 Abu 2006

An Abundance of Katherines is a young adult novel by John Green. Released in 2006, it was a finalist for the Michael L. Printz Award. As of May 3, 2016, it is #9 on the New York Times best seller listing for Young Adult Paperback.

The novel includes an appendix by Daniel Biss, a close friend to Green, explaining some of the more complex equations the main character, Colin, uses.

Plot summary

Colin Singleton, a child prodigy, fears he will not maintain his genius as an adult. Over the span of his life, Colin has dated nineteen girls named Katherine, all spelled in that manner. After being dumped by his girlfriend, Katherine XIX, Colin is longing to feel whole, and longing to matter. He hopes to become a genius by having a "eureka" moment.

After graduating from high school, and before college, Colin's best and only friend, Hassan Harbish, convinces him to go on a road trip to take his mind off the breakup. Colin goes, hoping to find his "eureka" moment. After driving from Chicago to Tennessee, they visit the supposed resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. There, they meet Lindsey Lee Wells. After a short time, Colin and Hassan find themselves employed by Hollis, Lindsey's mother who runs a local factory producing tampon strings. They live with their employer and her daughter in a rural town called Gutshot, Tennessee. Hollis employs them to interview all current adult residents of Gutshot and assemble an oral history of the town.

Colin begins to like Lindsey, though he is foiled by her boyfriend, Colin (he and Hassan call him TOC, "the other Colin"). Colin is still chasing his eureka moment, finally finding it in his theorem he created called the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. The theorem determines the curve of any relationship based on several factors of the personalities of the two people in a relationship. His theorem eventually works for all but one of his past relationships with a Katherine—which the novel explores.

While the back stories of Colin’s life play out, Hassan gets a girlfriend, Katrina, a friend of Lindsey’s. The relationship is cut short when Colin and Hassan catch Katrina having sex with TOC while on a feral hog hunt with Lindsey, her friends and Colin's father. A fight between TOC and all of the surrounding acquaintances begins when Lindsey finds out that he’s been cheating on her. While injured in the fight, Colin anagrams the Archduke's name while in the grave yard to dull the pain, and realizes that it is actually Lindsey's great-grandfather, named Fred N. Dinzanfar, that is buried in the tomb.

Colin finds Lindsey at her secret hideout in a cave, where he tells her the story of every Katherine he has ever loved. Lindsey tells him how she does not feel sad but instead slightly relieved by TOC's affair. They discuss what it means to them to "matter" and eventually confess their love for each other. As their relationship continues, Colin decides to use his dating formula to determine whether or not he and Lindsey will last. The graph reveals that they will only last for four more days. Lindsey then slips a note under his door, four days later, stating that she cannot be his girlfriend because she is in love with Hassan. But she leaves a P.S. stating that she is joking. Colin realizes that his theorem cannot predict the future of a relationship; it can only shed light on why a relationship failed. Despite this, Colin is content with not "mattering". Hassan also states that he is applying for two college classes, which Colin has been trying to convince him to do throughout the book. The story ends with the trio driving to a nearby Wendy's.

Main characters

Colin Singleton
Colin Singleton is an anagram-loving seventeen-year-old boy who is depressed. Though he was a child-prodigy with an IQ of over 200, he has not yet become a "genius". Colin finds everything interesting, especially things that other people seem to not care much about. Because of this, it is difficult for people to relate to Colin. After only dating Katherines, Colin breaks the streak by dating Lindsey Lee Wells, who he met on his road trip with Hassan. Throughout the novel Colin feels as though there is a hole in his stomach, and he is looking to fill it. Colin spends his time striving to be unique, but with Lindsey's help, ends up coming to the realization that he is "not-unique in the very best way possible."
Hassan Harbish
Hassan Harbish is Colin's lazy, funny, and slightly overweight best, and only, friend. Though he is smart and has been accepted to college, Hassan takes a year off. At first Hassan does not seem to plan furthering his education. He convinces Colin to go on a road trip in order to break out of his depression. Hassan is Muslim and takes his faith very seriously, acting with strict religiosity, until he dates Katrina. Hassan is an integral part to Colin's journey of finding his true identity.
Lindsey Lee Wells
Lindsey Lee Wells meets Colin and Hassan on their road trip in Gutshot, Tennessee. She is a paramedic-in-training who also gives tours of Gutshot. When Lindsey first appears in the novel, she is dating someone else named Colin, not the protagonist. However, she doesn't feel like she is truly herself until she starts hanging around Colin Singleton. Like Colin, Lindsey seems to be struggling with her identity. Inspired by Colin's ability to always be himself, Lindsey finally becomes herself.
Hollis Wells
Lindsey's mother. An extreme workaholic. Very kind to the people who work at her factory.

Style and format

The novel is written in a third-person narrative. Green used third person to create empathy for Colin. In a blog post, Green wrote that the novel "needed to be written in third person, because it's about a guy whose brain does not lend itself to narratives, and who struggles to tell stories in ways other people find interesting."[1]

The story includes many footnotes that become an essential part to understanding Colin's brain and how it works. Green says that the footnotes "function as a kind of competing narrative that comments upon and—for lack of a better word—problematizes the central narrative."[1] An Abundance of Katherines is a fiction work that includes many mathematical terms and academic language. With the footnotes and The Appendix that is at the end of the novel, Green gives his readers "a way of attempting to achieve precision and clarity" of the story in general, but more specifically, Colin's mind.[1]

The book consists of 19 chapters to highlight the number 19. These chapters include Colin's flashbacks, which are "meant to reflect the relationship we have between chronological narrative and emotional narrative."[1] This format is also known as non-linear narrative.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand is an anagram of Lindsey's great grandpa's name, Fred N. Dinzanfar. Ferdinand becomes a symbol of what matters to Colin most: mattering. Though Ferdinand is famous, he did not really do much; he is famous for being shot. "While some people are remembered, others are forgotten, and a lot of times it doesn't matter whether we try to do something noteworthy of not. History gets to decide, ultimately, whether we're remembered."[2]
Lindsey's Cave
Lindsey's cave is her "super, incredibly top secret location that no one on Earth knows about."[3] Colin is the only person she shows the cave to. This symbolizes the comfort and trust in their relationship. It also stands for Lindsey's privacy. Green has acknowledged that the cave can also be seen as a representation for Lindsey's vagina. Green says that Colin's romantic journey with Lindsey "is a journey away from the (phallic) obelisk and toward the (sapphic) cave, and in the end only in the place associated with femininity is Colin able to become authentically himself with someone else."[4]


An Abundance of Katherines was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book[5] and received recognition as one of American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults.[6]

Film adaptation

John Green mentioned in Brotherhood 2.0, a video blog he created with his brother, on December 10, 2007 that rights had been bought to make his book into a movie. Green was asked to write the screenplay.[7] On his website, it states that the project was abandoned, though a different production company currently has the rights with hope for the future.[8] In an Interview with Josh Horowitz, Green states that with the exception of Looking for Alaska (Paramount has the film rights to it), all of his books are in his control in regard to their film adaptation.[9]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Green, John. "Questions about An Abundance of Katherines". John Green Books. WordPress. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  2. Shmoop Editorial Team. "Archduke Franz Ferdinand in An Abundance of Katherines". Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc.
  3. Green 2006, p. 141.
  4. Green, John. "Questions about An Abundance of Katherines". John Green Books. WordPress. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  5. American Library Association (2010). "Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  6. American Library Association (2007). "2007 Best Books for Young Adults". Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  7. John Green (10 December 2007). "Brotherhood 2.0".
  8. Green, John. "Movie Questions". Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  9. John Green on Happy Sad Confused (Wolfpop) with Josh Horowitz. Published 12 September 2014.

External links

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