The Numbers Game

You might not think that a particle physicist would be the best person to write a novel about damaged children and the friendship that grows between them over 25 years, but that's exactly what Paolo Giordano did with The Solitude of Prime Numbers. The story follows Alice and Mattia through childhood and adulthood; the two children are both “primes” — misfits who find it difficult to fit with others (hence the prime-number analogy: Prime numbers can only be divided by themselves or the number one).

Alice was a skiing prodigy until an accident left her crippled; she blames her father for forcing her into the sport and her mother for failing to protect her from her father's overbearing plan for his daughter's life. And Mattia is saddled with a mentally disabled twin sister; when he leaves her in a park to go to a birthday party, she disappears.

Unable to lean on their families for help or hope, Alice and Mattia reach out to each other as teens and hold tight until adulthood, when forces separate the two prime numbers.

Giordano's grasp of science and mathematics and his ability to use prose to uncover nuance and emotion interplay beautifully in Prime Numbers; he'll read from the book and sign it tonight at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Call 303-322-7727 or visit
Tue., April 12, 7:30 p.m., 2011

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen