Aimee Bender's first novel of unassuming page length details a young girl's salvation by numbers. The story is told from the point of view of the protagonist, one Mona Gray. She takes up her father's passion for mathematics after he becomes ill.
Shit happens. She develops signs of OCD—tapping on doors, mainly—then she begins quitting everything that she was ever any good at. She quits track, quits friends, quits feelings. Except math.
She can't quite shake the maths.
So she gets a job teaching at an elementary school where she teaches children the magic inherent in numerals.
Her neighbor is her former high school Algebra teacher, who now owns the local hardware store. He's a little kooky himself: every morning he selects a different number which he wears a pendant of around his neck. But he's a minor character, really.
Over the course of her first year teaching, Mona grows up. She falls in love and questions everything.
Aimee Bender's prose here is taut as a number line. I can't say anything more about this book for two reasons: it would ruin the story and I don't remember the finer plot details. But I do remember finding it to be a gripping exploration of how tragedy may alternately stifle and inflame the passions.
Once on a road trip I let a friend's little sister (a quiet type who was
not much of a reader) read this book. She began it out of the
necessity of not having any reading material and
finished it in a day.
A film adaptation was released in 2010.