Monday, February 29, 2016

The Solitude of Prime Numbers

6613956A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one—it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.
But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface.

*May Contain Spoilers*
Paolo Giordano writes a powerful and gripping novel about two misfits who seem to fit together in The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Scarred from childhood accidents, Mattia and Alice struggle to find their place in the number sequence while readers melt into Giordano's delicious prose and learn to understand these two indivisible people.
A skiing accident left Alice with a useless leg and a strongly pronounced limp. This childhood trauma brings readers to Alice's side from the beginning of the novel. That connection deepens when readers witness the bullying that Alice had to endure at school as well as the seriousness of her eating disorder. Alice is a determined character who doesn't apologize for being herself. Though she has problems, readers will be able to connect with Alice through them. Her strained relationships and dreams of being a photographer, setting herself apart from the world, depicts her solitude. She never wanted to be with the world. Alice wanted to be outside of it because she knew that being different put her on the sidelines. Her imperfections make her interesting to readers. She's hot-headed, manipulative, and secretive. She's a character that readers can be upset with and still want to know how the story ends.
Mattia has more scars than Alice, but that doesn't make him any more damaged than she is. Mattia was born a twin, but Michela was mentally deficient. One day, she disappeared. Mattia blamed himself for being so embarrassed of his sister. He became withdrawn and often acted on the urge to mutilate himself, specifically his hands. Mattia is a quiet character who happens to be a mathematical genius. Readers will understand his pain and wish that he could find a way to relieve that anguish. He also sets himself apart from the world, hiding behind numbers and chalkboards.
The plot of this novel asks the question: can two people, destined to be set apart from everyone else, find a place of solace with each other? The novel begins in 1983 and ends in 2007, telling the sad story of two prime numbers that are always two steps apart. The writing style of Paolo Giordana is beautiful and easy to dance in, even when the details are cringe-worthy. Giordana has a way of conveying feeling and emotion without naming it, sending the reaction to readers through his delicately chosen words. I'd highly recommend The Solitude of Prime Numbers to anyone who loves a good paragraph, a good chapter, carefully planned and perfectly executed.
Rating: 4/5 Cups

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