Book Review: The Solitue of Prime Numbers
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
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The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano is beautiful. It is also disturbing. It is the story of Alice and Mattia, two friends who are prime numbers, misfits who are connected to each other by circumstance as well as the strangeness of their stories.
Alice's life is shaped by her early experiences skiiing, a sport she hated but her father loved and expected to her excel at as he did in his earlier years. Fed up equally with his expectations and her failure to meet them, one Saturday she skis herself right into some irreparable physical damage that keeps her off the slopes as well as out of the adolescent social loops she thinks are the mark of being normal.
Also frustrated by his parents' expectations at an early age, Mattia likewise damages his life in the hope of shaking off the relentless demands that he be caretaker to his mentally handicapped identical twin sister who is as intellectually limited as he is gifted.
Alice and Mattia become friends as a matter of convenience and comfort. Their strangeness alone unites them as confederates. Over the years, she struggle through photography and he, through math, to free themselves of the damage of the past and experience freedom and peace.
This novel is their story and the part of the lifetime it takes for them to outgrow each other once they step out from under the shadows of the mistakes they made as very young children. In their final act of friendship, each allows the other to recognize their potential for beautiful, meaningful lives free of the burdens of the past.