Sunday, April 4, 2010

Book Review: "The Solitude of Prime Numbers" by Paolo Giordano

Alice and Mattia are misfits. Both scarred (one literally, one figuratively) in their childhood, they meet as teenagers in Italy. Alice is the typical teenage girl, trying to fit in despite her low self-esteem, while Mattia wants nothing more than to disappear into the world of numbers that soothe him and bring order to his internal chaos. The strange relationship they forge together is at the core of The Solitude of Prime Numbers.

The story follows Alice and Mattia from their difficult childhoods to somewhat uncertain adulthood. They have jobs—Alice is a photographer and Mattia is pursuing a career as a mathematician and college instructor. They struggle with life, drawn to one another while at the same time wishing for solitude. They muddle through relationships with others—family, friends, coworkers—and you can't help but wonder whether they are at all fulfilled by their lives.

This is a beautifully written book, but ultimately it is hard to love. Mattia and Alice do such a good job pushing everyone away in their lives, and these characters did the same for me. While I know that there are people in this world who struggle with how to connect with others, as a story, it was very frustrating to invest so much time on characters I didn't feel advanced in any way.

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