Okay, so for me, developing a crush on a character in a book = not so much of a rarity. Developing a crush on TWO characters in a book = totally unusual.* I fell for both Colin (who, yes, I wanted to strangle sometimes, but affectionately) and Hassan (who is totally the Lebanese-American version of a friend from high school). As much as I enjoyed the humor and the footnotes and the anagrams and the other characters and the romance and the journey and the story itself, it was really the friendship between Colin and Hassan that did it for me.
I know I won't be the only one to fall in love. This is the story of their first conversation (they were in ninth grade at the time):
About two weeks into class, Colin raised his hand and Ms. Sorenstein said, "Yes, Colin?" Colin was holding his hand underneath his glasses against his left eye, in obvious discomfort.
"May I be excused for a moment?" he asked.
"Is it important?"
"I think I have an eyelash in my pupillary sphincter," replied Colin, and the class erupted into laughter. Ms. Sorenstein sent him on his way, and then Colin went into the bathroom and, staring in the mirror, plucked the eyelash from his eye, where the pupillary sphincter is located.
After class, Hassan found Colin eating a peanut butter and no jelly sandwich on the wide stone staircase at the school's back entrance.
"Look," Hassan said. "This is my ninth day at a school in my entire life, and yet somehow I have already grasped what you can and cannot say. And you cannot say anything about your own sphincter."
"It's part of your eye," Colin said defensively. "I was being clever."
"Listen, dude. You gotta know your audience. That bit would kill at an ophthalmologist convention, but in calculus class, everybody's just wondering how the hell you got an eyelash there."
And so they were friends.
The title refers to the fact that Colin, who has just graduated from high school, has only ever dated girls named Katherine. He has always been Dumped. He is a Dumpee. His Dumping by Katherine XIX on the day of his high school graduation is almost more than he can handle.
Thank God (or luck and DNA—Colin's an atheist) for Hassan, who saves Colin from lying face down on his bedroom floor by suggesting the perfect solution: A road trip.
The grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a mathematical equation to predict the future of romantic relationships, a secret cave and a wild pig hunt in Gutshot, Tennessee all figure in.
*Okay, not totally: I wanted to be friends with all of the boys in Saving Francesca. While also a rarity, that's not quite the same. I admit to falling for both Mathin and Corlath in The Blue Sword. In the Dorothy Sayers books, my love is reserved for Bunter. Sorry, Peter. Oh. One more. The Amelia Peabody books: Okay, two crushes there—Emerson and Ramses. That's it, though. I think.
**It'll be much easier to recommend. How much do you love the cover art? It rules. Also, for those of you that have to worry about stuff like this: There's hardly any sex, not much drinking, etc. There's far, far less swearing in Abundance than in Alaska—unless you count the word 'fugging'. If you do, there might actually be more.