samedi 26 juillet 2008

I don’t know about you but I’ve always had a hard time with mathematics. It was something I could never wrap my mind around and it was a struggle to make sense of formulas and all that it entailed. It was thus always a source of marvel for me to hear about individuals for whom numbers held no secrets.
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani is exactly about one of those special individuals except in her case, the prodigy discovers her talent when she is seven. Rumi and her family are immigrants from India hoping to carve out a better life for themselves in the United Kingdom. When they learn that Rumi has an exceptional talent for math, it transforms their life. Their lives increasingly begin to revolve around her gift and the goal of making it to Oxford by the time she is 15.
The biggest enjoyment in reading this story is the language employed by Lalwani. Whether she is describing the immigrant experience or the teenage Rumi’s growing sense of isolation and confusion, she is able to capture the situation in a language both elegant and which rings true. There was real pleasure just from the way the language flowed, funny and pithy at times, at other times, belligerent and bleak. I loved the way she transposed the language of math into Rumi’s daily life. One scene I particularly liked was one where Rumi is walking home after a particularly bitter rejection by a friend, and while walking counts of to the beat of her shoes “powering up to exponents of two with the left and subtracting one with the right each time, creating Mersenne numbers (2 to the power n minus 1). Each time she created a new total she checked to see if it was a composite or prime number, working out the possible mutations in her head. Whenever the number was prime, indivisible, it felt like a little stab, a minute betrayal, the tiny catheter of pain, insinuating its way into her heart. 2 to the power of 7 minus 1= 127, which number was particularly painful. Maybe because it had such promise-carrying all the world in it: the certain 1, the right now unbearable 2 and then 7, which would always be lucky and sexy, cheeky and cool. Everything she wasn’t .” Enjoying the language with which Gifted is written in a way, allows the reader to get past the sometimes unlikeability of the characters and the somewhat negative slant it takes towards family and the perpetual concern of fitting in and making something of oneself, which is especially poignant when far from the familiar comforts of home.

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