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An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender

An Invisible Sign of My Own (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Aimee Bender

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Title:An Invisible Sign of My Own
Authors:Aimee Bender
Info:Anchor (2001), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender (2000)


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An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender; Y/A; (3 1/2*)

I enjoyed this story of Mona Grey, a 20 year old introvert whose mathematical mind totally rules her body. If she becomes anxious or nervous she knocks on wood and each knock represents to her a number or a series of numbers.
Mona and her father are both runners and one day while running together, her father collapses. He is diagnosed with an unspecific illness that affects his mind and body. When Mona becomes of age her mother tells her she needs to leave home, that she has to take care of her husband. It feels like abandonment. At first Mona is terribly withdrawn. If she finds herself physically attracted to a man she locks herself in the bathroom and eats soap until all she feels is sickness. But slowly, very slowly, and surely she begins to trust herself and to come out of her shell.
She finds herself employed at the local primary school teaching Mathematics to young students and is rewarded with their enthusiasm to learn. Through the school and classes Mona meets students and other adults and we are drawn into their lives.
Bender has created some very interesting characters. Some are well rounded and some are flat. With reading this book I found that I really like her writing. ( )
  rainpebble | Sep 8, 2015 |
I had a bit of a tough time with this book. Ms. Gray is young woman who is "into" numbers and "into" knocking on wood. She has a bit of obsessive-compulsive and a bit of autism spectrum in her personality. She is likeable, however. She gets a job as a Math teacher in an elementary school, where she introduces the idea of Materials and Numbers. For this project, each child must bring in a number made out of some material.

This is where the book gets wild and wacky. One child brings in a part of an arm for the number "1". The teacher brings in an axe for the number "7". You get the idea.

A relationship begins to develop between Ms. Gray and Benjamin the science teacher, but it is often thwarted by soap (yes, soap!). You're not going to understand my review of this book. If your "thing" is bizarre, post-modern and creative literature, give this book a try. If not, don't go near it! ( )
  SqueakyChu | Apr 9, 2013 |
This is a story about a girl who likes numbers. What I liked best about this novel is that it was so person sometimes I find myself thinking of something that happened and wondering "wait, was this from a book or did it really happen?" The novel is sometimes hard to follow as Bender's real talent lies within the short story but after awhile it really got going and was a joy to read. Be warned, there are some gruesome moments and grotesque thoughts. Many images and descriptions are unfamiliar and sarcastic. ( )
  eidzior | Apr 6, 2013 |
A quirky novel about an OC women just starting her professional carer as a teacher. Her even quirkier students teacher he lessons in life and love. It has a bit of an unbelievable air to it, but the story ultimately won me over. ( )
  LaurenGommert | Oct 18, 2010 |
Aimee Bender has a way of warping reality into the skewed vision people live in. The setting is vividly depicted by blue shadows from a futuristic hospital and the omen of a story of broken people hangs over the entire cast of characters.

The novel manages to wrap up leaving you wishing for one more page, but also satisfied that the novel stops the way our anecdotes about life do. Mona Gray is still knocking on wood somewhere. ( )
  AmyLynn | May 31, 2010 |
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Numbers are friends for me, more or less. It doesn't mean the same to you, does it--3,844? For you it's just a three and an eight and a four and a four. But I say, "Hi! 62 squared."
-Mathematician Wim Klein
for suzanne and karen
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So. There was this kingdom once where everybody lived for ever. -Prologue
On my twentieth birthday, I bought myself an ax.
Some worries sit in the stomach like old bad food. Most of the time, they are so quiet and dormant you can’t feel them at all. Oh good, you think. They’re gone.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385492243, Paperback)

Aimee Bender's funny, delicately shaded first novel is a constant delight, even at its most warped. An Invisible Sign of My Own tells the story of Mona Gray, a math wiz and a high school track star, whose ordinary childhood comes to pieces when her father is stricken with a mysterious illness. There doesn't seem to be a name for it, but he looks sort of gray and seems frail and unhappy. Whether there's anything really wrong with Mona's dad is unclear, but her fear that he will die, as well as his withdrawal from family life--no more vacations, no running practice with his daughter, no unplanned outings--triggers a corresponding withdrawal in her. Whenever she does well at anything, or starts to enjoy herself, she quits: piano class, dancing lessons, her first boyfriend, running.
I quit dessert to see if I could do it; of course I could; I quit breathing one evening until my lungs overruled; I quit touching my skin, sleeping with both hands under the pillow. When no one was home, I tied ropes around the piano, so that it would take me thirty minutes with scissors to get back to that minuet. Then I hid all the scissors.
Instead of working out her problems, Mona develops a habit of knocking on wood, and sometimes knocks for an hour before getting to sleep. Eating soap is her other dark indulgence: a surefire anti-aphrodisiac that she calls on whenever she feels sexually attracted to a man.

At 20, Mona is recruited to teach math at the local elementary school. To her surprise, she is a brilliant teacher, making addition and subtraction tangible to second graders with a game called Numbers and Materials, in which the students bring in natural or man-made objects that take the form of numbers. When 7-year-old Lisa Venus brings in a zero made of IV tubing from her dying mother's hospital room, Mona recognizes a kindred spirit. But she will have to be healthy herself to help Lisa resist her urge to take on her mother's illness out of grief and loyalty. The complicated connection between children and adults is the underlying theme of this big-hearted novel. However quirky and alarming Bender's methods may seem, An Invisible Sign of My Own is no darker than a fairy tale, and the witch--even if it's the witch within--is reliably vanquished in the end. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Mona Gray, the second-grade math teacher who has always specialized in quitting, has such a love for numbers and their effect on her life, and then the new science teacher threatens her "strange and tidy universe ... [with] love, the supreme disorder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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