epilogue, author's note, & appendix

Summary: epilogue, author's note, & appendix

The next morning, Lindsey goes to visit Mabel. Colin’s formula predicts Lindsey will dump him within a few days. On the expected day, however, a breakup note from her ends with “P.S. Just kidding.” They are still together. Colin makes one last attempt to fix his formula, but as he listens to Lindsey and Hassan play poker, he realizes that the formula is unfixable. It can explain the past, but it cannot predict the future, any more than a formula could predict future poker hands. The formula is a kind of story. Stories are how we make sense of the past, and how we are able to matter, a little bit, in the infinite sea of time. The unknowable future comes at us and resists our efforts to make sense of it.

Ready for lunch, the trio jump into Colin’s car. Passing up their usual burger stop, they drive onto the interstate, with plans to “just keep driving for a while.” Colin is getting used to being not-unique. His future, like everyone else’s, is wide open.

Analysis: epilogue, author's note, & appendix

The end of the novel wraps up Colin’s coming-of-age journey as he has his second—and most important—Eureka moment. In this moment, Colin finally understands that a mathematical formula can’t predict what will happen in a relationship, it can only tell the story of what has happened in the past. The future, he realizes, is wide open and full of unknowable variables and possibilities. This realization, coupled with the final scene of the three friends driving toward an unknown destination and into an unpredictable future, ends the novel on a hopeful note.

The final scenes revolve around the understanding of identity, as Colin is finally able to see himself as more than a former child prodigy and to value parts of himself that have nothing to do with academic achievement and intellectual potential. For the first time in his life, Colin feels “not-unique in the very best way possible.”

The topic of romantic love also makes a final appearance in the epilogue, as Colin and Lindsey find themselves in a relationship that is very different than any that they’ve been in previously. Throughout the novel, Colin has repeatedly stated that relationships all end up in breakup, divorce, or death, and that is likely true of Colin and Lindsey’s relationship, too. But unlike Colin’s relationships with Katherines, which were based on girls’ suitability because of their names, or Lindsey’s relationship with TOC, which was based on the social status he could provide her, Colin and Lindsey’s relationship is based on a deep connection and mutual respect. Heading into the sunset at the end of the novel, both Colin and Lindsey have a deeper understanding of what it means to be vulnerable and to truly know and care about another person.

The novel ends with an author’s note and an appendix, neither of which are critical to understanding the story. However, these two features, along with other features common in academic writing, such as graphs, footnotes, and numbered lists, reinforce the academic style of the novel. In addition, the appendix by math expert Daniel Bliss explains the real math behind Colin’s fictional formula.