Quote 1

Dating, after all, only ends one way: poorly. If you think about it, and Colin often did, all romantic relationships end in either (1) breakup, (2) divorce, or (3) death.

This quote from Chapter 3 is from the narrator, but it is an example of close third-person narration, providing a description of what Colin is thinking. In this case, the narrator describes Colin’s feelings about relationships and romance. Colin sees love and romance in an extremely pragmatic and rational way. He believes every relationship is made up of two people: a dumper and a dumpee. His cynical view of romantic relationships is focused solely on what he believes to be their inevitable outcome—the relationship’s end. Colin’s attitude is in part a reaction to his very recent breakup, but it also provides insight into his immature and wildly oversimplified concept of romantic love in general. For much of the novel, Colin’s understanding of “love” is based entirely on a girl’s name being Katherine and on how much she likes him. It doesn’t seem like he has been very interested in truly getting to know the Katherines or understanding who they are. By boiling each relationship down to a name and an ending, Colin is completely disregarding the individuals involved. This quote proves that Colin has a lot to learn about love, and his changing perspective on romantic relationships becomes a main focus of his coming-of-age journey.

Quote 2

You’re a very special person. Colin would hear this a lot, and yet—somehow—he could never hear it enough.

These words come from Chapter 3, in a flashback to Colin’s childhood when he was first identified as a prodigy at the age of two. Being “special” or “a prodigy” has defined Colin’s identity since then, and it influences just about everything he thinks and does. However, as the novel begins, Colin has officially outgrown the label of “child prodigy;” having just graduated high school, he is no longer a child. Both Colin and his parents expect that he will continue to excel academically and intellectually and become a genius, but Colin is beginning to realize that there might be more to life than academic achievement. The idea that Colin likes being special but that he could never hear the compliment enough times hints that external validation might not be enough for Colin. Colin’s desire to discover who he is, and to forge an identity independent of academic achievement, becomes another focus of his coming-of-age journey in the novel.

Quote 3

I’m full of shit. I’m never myself. I’ve got a Southern accent around the oldsters and I’m a nerd for graphs and deep thoughts around you. I’m Miss Bubbly Pretty Princess with Colin. I’m nothing. The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.

 In Chapter 14, while Lindsey and Colin are lying together in the darkness of Lindsey’s secret cave, Lindsey reveals to Colin that the thing that makes her popular and beloved—her ability to adapt and change in order to appeal to others—is also a source of distress to her. Lindsey realizes that she has no idea which version of herself is the real one, suggesting that like Colin, she is trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. The fact that Colin and Lindsey are both struggling with this suggests the universal nature of the themes of identity and individuality. Although they are completely different people with completely different backgrounds, Colin and Lindsey are both trying to discover their authentic selves.

Quote 4

And the moral of the story is that you don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.

This quote from Chapter 19 is one of Colin’s true Eureka moments in the story, and it encapsulates the theme of the fallibility and malleability of memory. Memory plays an important role in the novel, with much of the story being told through Colin’s flashbacks to his childhood and his various relationships with Katherines. Colin’s ability to remember facts, recall them when needed, and make connections between them is part of what makes him a prodigy. He has an incredible memory and he trusts it implicitly. He does not question his own memories of the past until he discovers that he has misremembered the facts surrounding the end of his relationship with one of the Katherines, adjusting them to fit his narrative that all the Katherines broke up with him. By the end of the novel, Colin has realized that memory isn’t an objective thing, because memories can be incomplete and can change over time.

Quote 5

Colin’s skin was alive with the feeling of connection to everyone in that car and everyone not in it. And he was feeling not-unique in the very best possible way.

This quote from the epilogue indicates that Colin has finally shed his single-minded obsession with being special and has truly connected with the people around him. In this moment of hope and possibility, Colin is heading into an unknown and unpredictable future with people he knows and cares about and who know and care about him. The final scene of the novel also suggests that although the story has come to an end, the spirit of change and growth, and the coming-of-age-journey itself, is ongoing. Driving down the road with his friends, Colin is no longer a unique and solitary “singleton” always striving to achieve the next impossible goal. Instead, he is now a fully-formed individual on a journey into the future with his friends.