A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one-it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.
But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface.
Like Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, this is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and the weight of childhood experience that is set to become a universal classic.
This story was odd, but in some ways it compelled me to read on, and in other ways I found it a bit annoying. I'm thinking some of the story got lost in the translation from Italian because sometimes the words seemed a bit too abrupt. Plus, the point of view switched at times and seemed a bit irrelevant to the story as a whole. It gave me a bit of a depressed feeling at the end because what appeared to be a resolution I'd hoped for ended up being disappointing instead. I suppose it all goes with the theme of the book and the solitude between the two main characters. Yet at the same time they seemed to need each other.
Mattia seemed to have some form of autism and Alice had a severe eating disorder and their lack of true communication made their situations worse, especially when they were apart. They seemed less dysfunctional when they had each other. At any rate, it was a rather strange and depressing story with a lot of telling. But it intrigued me enough to keep reading, so I did like it a little bit. I don't see the overall appeal that made it an international best-seller, but obviously it appealed to a whole lot of people. I could take it or leave it.
The Solitude of Prime Numbers was published by Penguin Books and released in March 2010.