(This review is excerpted from a longer review in Vector available here.)
Dr. Richard Hoshino’s first novel, The Math Olympian, is about a teenage girl from a small town in Nova Scotia who discovers a BIG passion for mathematical problem solving. She commits herself to the goal of representing her country at the International Mathematical Olympiad. Through hard work, grit and the support of a number of mentors, Bethany Macdonald trains to become a world champion “mathlete.” She overcomes adversity on her remarkable journey as she develops confidence and creativity in problem-solving and in life.
Just as Bethany discovers the splendour and the essence of mathematics, so will many readers of this book. One of the many themes of the book is that mathematics is a subject that’s not about memorizing formulas, but rather about problem-solving. While those involved in Math Olympiad or other math contests will be able to identify with Bethany’s experiences and would gain some useful insights into problem solving techniques, the book also offers the less-inclined (or even some reluctant math students) more than a glimpse into beauty of mathematics. The thrill of detecting patterns and discovering connections and the satisfaction of writing elegant solutions and experiencing precious “Aha” moments could appeal to a variety of readers with wide-ranging backgrounds in mathematics.