a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (2007)
Wendy Lichtman
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Paula Morrow

A math-loving eighth grader applies mathematical concepts to problems in her social life.

According to the book jacket, the author has a degree in mathematics and writes pieces for many periodicals. In this book, aimed at young teenagers, she uses notation and ideas from middle school algebra courses in the context of the usual teenage dilemmas. For instance:

(quoted from Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra)

We're spending a lot of time studying inequalities in algebra now, which makes sense, since who you're greater than (>) and who you're less than (<) is kind of the point of eight grade. So when I finished putting more paper in the top tray, I stepped aside and said "Go ahead" because we both knew that Richard was > me (R>T).

Contributed by Anonymous

This innovative book captures the essence of middle school life and engages the mathematical and creative interests of young readers. I read this book with a small group of 11 to 15 year olds and they loved the combination of mystery, math and tales of teenage life. It's a great educational tool... and a great read!

Contributed by Anonymous

This book is brilliant. If you love math, you'll be amazed at how the author uses the theoretical to describe human relationships and events. If you hate math, this book will give you a new appreciation for the elusive concepts you never thought you'd ever need again. If you're afraid of math, this book will make it accessible in a way it never has been before and it's all accomplished through the backdrop of a great story. Lichtman captures the voice and social culture of adolescence and so seamlessly weaves math concepts throughout that you don't even realize you're learning algebra. This book should be required reading for every teen taking algebra and for every parent who might be asked to help with homework.

The author, Wendy Lichtman, has written a revealing essay that has been posted on the Website of Powell's Book Service. Click here to read it.

The sequel, Do the Math: The Writing on the Wall, appeared in 2008.

Contributed by Anonymous

The literary quality is not the best, because in my opinion, I don't like how two things are going on at the same time (cheating at school and murder out of school). But the way the math is used is very creative and is what is actually taught in 8th grade.

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Works Similar to Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Do the Math #2: The Writing on the Wall by Wendy Lichtman
  2. The Witch of Agnesi by Robert Spiller
  3. Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen by Kathryn Walat (playwright)
  4. The Infinite Pieces of Us by Rebekah Crane
  5. Do the Math: A Novel of the Inevitable by Philip Persinger
  6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  7. Hannah, Divided by Adele Griffin
  8. Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley
  9. Sophie's Diary by Dora Musielak
  10. Mean Girls by Tina Fey (screenplay) / Mark S. Waters (director)
Ratings for Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3.37/5 (8 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.23/5 (9 votes)

GenreMystery, Children's Literature, Young Adult,
MotifRomance, Math Education,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)