Review The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder, 2003 / Picador 2009 (English version), 180 pages.
First Sentences: We called him the Professor. And he called my son Root, because, he said, the flat top of his head reminded him of the square root sign.
MOTIVATION FOR READING: June’s IRL Bookclub Selection. And, I vividly recall Ali’s enthusiam (click here for Worducopia’s review) so I was quite excited that this was proposed and voted in for this month’s discussion.
WHAT IT’s ABOUT: A housekeeper is hired to cook and clean for an elderly man who, as a result of a brain injury from a car accident, can only rely on his short term memory in 80 minute increments. In other words, he has to ‘meet’ his ‘new’ housekeeper EVERY DAY as if for the first time!
WHAT’s GOOD: The character development. The tender endearing respect between all the characters. The easy explanations of interesting* mathematical concepts. The layering and weaving together of appreciation for education and children, love of baseball, and how a work situation can foster a unique friendship.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: The underlying and underexplained tensions and misunderstanding of the lady who pays the bills. Very minor, could have been me missing something key, I’m sure. I will wait for bookclub to have this explored further.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am hesitant to add more about why I love this book because so many of my wonderful readers of this blog already make enough fun of me for liking mathematics. Again – my advice is to go read Ali’s review!!! If I tell you that this book has plenty of math in it, I am afraid some of you will decide NOT to read this and that would be a pity. I read this in one day (sorry Gail or THANK YOU GAIL! I was subbing for YOU when I read this but saved the last ten pages for home, in case I had to cry.) I did tear up a lot; I even got teary listening to this country song the other day – so it only goes to show you that I can be extremely sentimental…
Rating: FOUR PIES!
I prefer pi, too, you know… ♥
* Seriously, some math concepts are incredibly interesting! Give this a chance! Don’t let my inner math geek scare you off this book.