The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
The eponymous Housekeeper’s birthdate is February 20, or written out, 220. The said Professor wears a prize watch inscribed with “President’s Prize No. 284.” Together, 220 and 284 are amicable numbers. And with that coincidence, the Housekeeper and the Professor begin their amicable relationship … over and over again.
For the Professor, still a mathematical genius, time stopped back in 1975 as a result of a terrible car accident, and since then, he has only an 80-minute memory. The Housekeeper must re-establish their relationship every morning when she arrives for work. And in time, her son, whom the Professor nicknames “Root” because his 10-year-old head with its flat top repeatedly reminds the Professor of a square root sign, makes the improbable duo an even more surprising trio.
This is one of those rare stories that you can’t put down without a lovely, heartfelt sigh. It’s a quietly lingering tale of how families can happen in the most unlikely ways … and how numbers can solve even the most daunting challenges. Keep a watch out for numbers 28 and 11, too …
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2009 (United States)