book review: My life as a rhombus

My life as a rhombus                                              

by: Varian Johnson

Main character:  Rhonda Lee

I was a bit skeptical about this one.  Not only would this book would have math as a central theme, but it is a book written by a male with a teenage female as the main character.  The book itself indicates the problem adult men have in understanding teenage girls through the relationship Rhonda has with her father.  And, it is believable.  Johnson seems to get teenage girls.  The concerns with physical appearance, with cliques, parents and teenage boys are all developed in a very believable manner.

We first meet Rhonda while she is doing what she does best:  tutoring students in math.  The student who needs her help on this day is a classmate Rhonda doesn’t particularly like because she belongs to a different, more popular clique.  Rhonda is far from perfect but she does care about others and she does what she can to help those around her in need.  So, she decides to help this student so that she (Rhonda) can have a chance at a scholarship for the college of her choice.  In the process, she shares more of herself than she would have ever imagined to be possible.

Rhonda is very smart but she has problems and concerns like everyone else.  It is quite interesting to see how she uses mathmatical logic to make sense of her life.  It helps us non-math people see creative, purposeful uses to many of the concepts we struggle with in class.  This is a coming of age story with Rhonda’s growth happening when she learns to forgive others and herself for a tragic event in her past.

My life as a rhombus is Johnson’s second book and he says it is the most difficult thing he’s written to date.  He is a writer and structural engineer who resides in Austin, TX and submits to three blogs.

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