Book Review – The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls by Tom Durwood

This is a very unusual yet innovative book. It aims to demystify mathematics and make it fun for those who find the subject forbidding and even unpleasant. The genesis of the book lies in maths and history. On offer are 5 stories, all protagonists are girls with penchant for maths. Not all people feel happy with maths. If I classify them according to their views on maths, I would draw out three types of people, first who love it, secondly, they are ok with it, and thirdly, those who hate it.

I belong to second category. I studied it in school and college for PCM scope. Thus, I had unwittingly formed a bonding with Rupa, Uly, Jayanti, Cassey, and Pen. I understood where the author was short on words but wanted to explain each concept in detail. However, he was pulled back by the fictional demand of the stories. Honestly putting, the first story where the Indian girl solved the poisoned maths wizard’s case was easy to read, grasp, and spot on. It was a sort of a complete story, history at the back, action at the front, conspiracy of nations hidden in the Tamil, Sanskrit codes of Anaan.

I was expecting it to be one-girl solving all mystery in all countries. Soon, I realized my preconceived notion as I chugged ahead with Casey and her gambling family in the USA. This story was based on card counting and shooting and how it is affected by the earth’s curvature. I really liked the author’s multi-presence story line, he comes readily with short quotes, scenes at particular place, hotel, and house, etc. It adds dimensions to the overall reading pleasure. Maybe Tom got the hunch that readers may brim with skepticism; hence, he included his personal notes in explaining each story’s moot point.

My favourite was Sasha with the Red Hair. Uly is class. She is in Moscow to receive an award for her research on celestial physics at the time when Russians took pride by sending Sputnik to the space. But little did her sister Sasha know that the time is delicate and spies are around the corner always. Her cavalier ostentatious nature’s ramifications were meted out on her family. They were taken prisoner for dissident.

Black Swan and Jayani’s Big Gamle were about maths in calculating risk in economy, and the latter invented some ways to bigger the circumference of ovens. Jayani did it to earn more money so that she could afford her aunt finest medical treatment. Pen’s story was real that happened in 1992. But it wasn’t as remarkable as other stories in the light of applying mathematics.

I could hold a debate with mathematicians on these stories applied arithmetic, algebra, derivation, and so on. What did the book do to me? It evoked my school days. I got some conceptual revision…what I learnt then and how I use it today.

Despite grasping difficulties, I congratulate the author for coming out with a highly engaging book aimed at those who baulk at Mathematics as something unpleasant. Spin the coin to see the other side of the story. I strongly recommend the book to one and all. It is offbeat, fun and educative. You will love it if maths wasn’t a troublemaker to you.

If you liked the review, you may buy a copy of the book from Amazon/Kindle.

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