Marcy's Reviews > The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa
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Apr 12, 12

Read in April, 2012

This is a stunning story of a housekeeper who begins a job with a Professor of Math whose memory only lasts 80 minutes, due to a car accident that damaged his brilliant brain. His love of numbers, and love of teaching math to others is not damaged at all. When the Housekeeper enters each morning, the Professor reminds her of the "amicable" connections between the Housekeeper's birthday and the number on the back of his watch. When he finds out the Housekeeper has a son, he invites the Housekeeper to bring her son to work. The Professor calls him "Root," because top of his head is flat like the "root" of a number. The three of them become a family. The Professor teaches both the Housekeeper and Root the joy of discovering "abundant" numbers, "deficient" numbers, and "perfect" numbers. Formulas, which were always beautiful to the Professor, become, over time, beautiful to the Housekeeper and her son as well. "It's important to use your intuition. You swoop down on the numbers, like a kingfisher catching the glint of sunlight on the fish's fin."

It is a wonder that a man whose memory lasts only eighty minutes, can build and love a makeshift family that he will not remember upon each new day. The Housekeeper finds ways to help the Professor make comfortable connections. Root has found a father he never had. The Housekeeper builds a relationship with her son that she never had before because she had to work full time, from early in the morning until late at night to make ends meet. New life experiences were shared, where they had not really existed before...

This is the story of hope...of love...and it is just beautiful!
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