An Abundance of Katherines Summary

Summary

An Abundance of Katherines (2006) is written from the perspective of the novel's main character, Colin Singleton, child prodigy and recent high school graduate. To cure Colin's recent depression over his breakup with Katherine (number nineteen in the series of Katherines that Colin has dated), Hassan Harbish feels that they should depart on a road trip. After convincing their parents that a road trip is a good idea, Colin and Hassan go south from their home of Chicago.

In Kentucky, the boys take a detour to see the advertised gravesite of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. They arrive in a small town called Gutshot where they meet Lindsey Lee Wells, who has a smile that could “end wars and cure cancer."

As Lindsey takes Hassan and Colin to the archduke’s grave, Colin trips and hits his head on a rock. Lindsey—a paramedic in training—runs for medical supplies. While Colin is lying on the ground, he has his “Eureka” moment. Ignoring the pain in his head, he sketches out a graph and insists that the outcome of a relationship between any two people can be predicted. Lindsey returns, bandages Colin, and is informed of his Eureka moment and his history of Katherines. She laughs because she has only dated one boy—whose name is Colin. Then, Colin flashes back to the story of Katherine 1, in third grade.

Back in the present, the threesome reach the graveyard, and Lindsey gives a short speech about the archduke. Some of Lindsey’s friends arrive—her boyfriend, Colin (whom Hassan and Colin dub "The Other Colin" or "TOC"), and then Chase, Fulton, and Katrina. They find Hollis, Lindsey’s mother, waiting at the store when they return. Hollis recognizes Colin from his brief appearance on a short-lived game show and invites the boys to dinner.

Lindsey rides with Colin and points out the main employer in town—the factory Lindsey’s mother owns that makes tampon strings. After reaching the house, Colin begins work on his "Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability." During dinner, Hollis offers the boys $500 a week plus living arrangements to work for her for the summer. The boys accept.

The next day, Colin and Hassan discover that their job is to interview people in Gutshot for an oral history. With Lindsey accompanying them, the boys begin with Starnes Wilson, a man who has lived in Gutshot his entire life. The smell of Starnes’s home reminds Colin of Katherine 19’s basement and the first time they kissed. Later that night, Colin works on his theorem, and Lindsey explains to him the finer points of good storytelling.

After another day of interviews, Hassan and Colin drive through back roads, and Colin makes the disastrous decision to call Katherine 19. At home, Colin tries unsuccessfully to work on his theorem. Deciding he will not able to finish the theorem, Colin sets out to burn his notebook. Lindsey convinces Colin not to burn the notebook, but to let her hold on to it for a few days.

On their fifth night in Gutshot, Hassan goes out with Lindsey and her friends. When Hassan returns, he informs Colin that he has made plans to go hunting for pigs with Lindsey and her friends. Colin does not see the appeal of this, but Hassan wants adventure.

The next day, Hassan calls in “sick” to work, which leaves Colin and Lindsey to interview “the oldsters”—people who used to work at the factory and now live in a retirement home. Colin notices that Lindsey is popular among the residents. During the interviews, Lindsey receives some troubling news: Hollis is selling some of the factory’s land, and a new subdivision...

(The entire section is 1464 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear