In honor of Banned Book Week, I'm going to focus on authors and/or books that were banned or challenged. John Green's book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, was part of 11th grade English curriculum in Depew, NY but challenged due to graphic language and sexual content. SafeLibraries.org listed it as an ALA Porn Pusher (Really? Insane!) because of the sexually inappropriate material, despite the fact that it's marketed as YA, not 'tween or MG.
So John Green fits the criteria, and I was reading AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES--synchronicity!
Final Grade: 93/A
Review copy purchased
BLURB: When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.
REVIEW: John Green knows how to write a quirky, nerdy, laughable character who's completely flawed yet really likable. Colin Singleton is just that character (okay, so his main characters are all a bit alike but Green can tell a story like nobody's business so I'll forgive him. Yeah, got me some Green love!). Poor Colin's just been dumped by his latest Katherine and is face-down on the carpet in his room when his best friend, Hassan, proposes a road trip. (I feel like I've been reading a lot of road trip books lately. Hummm. Maybe the Universe is telling me something.) While Colin really just wants to wallow, Hassan talks him into it because, who doesn't feel better on a road trip? Their trip leads them to Gutshot, Tennessee, Lindsey, and summer jobs recording the town's history.
Despite the fact that not all loose ends are tied up and I was left hanging just a bit, I loved it. The strong teen voices come through loud and clear. You can practically hear them talking to one another, joking, chatting, and fighting. Sure, there's cursing but I don't feel like it's overused or thrown in just for the heck of it. And I love how wild, interesting facts are sprinkled liberally throughout the entire story. Like, do you know why the shower curtain always blows in towards the water (and you), despite the fact that the water is pushing against it? Yeah, I didn't until I read this book. Now, if it comes up on Trivia Night, my team will so own that point. (Wanna know? Read the book. Well, I suppose you could Google it but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun now, would it?)
Colin is quite a self-centered character, which seems like a bad thing but isn't. Being incredibly analytical, he inspects every aspect of his life with a fine-toothed comb, especially his relationships with the nineteen Katherines. Hassan is the perfect foil for Colin--loud and funny, more than happy to call Colin out when he's spouting too many useless facts or being too self-centered. Plus, he's intelligent enough to play on Colin's level, even though he'd rather sit on the couch and watch Judge Judy (really, he doesn't want to do anything else with his life but that.). While it's pretty obvious what's going to happen to Colin and Hassan, the story is intriguing enough to keep the reader interested.
Great characters and a fun plot made this book a fantastic end-of-the-summer, BBW author read.
This book can be purchased from AMAZON or INDIEBOUND Books.