Catching Genius

Catching Genius

by Kristy Kiernan

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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan.

In the long list of complicated relationships we have in our lives, the ones we share with our siblings is particularly thorny. While I was growing up, there was no escaping my little brother. He was always there, lurking, in my room, looking at my stuff. In the car, he was humming, but only so I could hear. He was on my side of the car, god forbid touching me. And of course, I was older and supposed to know better than to whack him in the head with the swings. I swear that was an accident. The lump on his head was pretty impressive, though.  My parents may fondly reminisce about the good old days of me and my brother getting along like little angels, but in the trenches, we knew better. It was war, and my brother was the Nazis, the Communists, Godzilla and the Bad Seed all rolled into one clarinet playing ball of pure evil.

Of course, now that we’re grown up we are best friends and love each other madly, so if your kids are going through this, live in hope for the future. We never did manage to actually kill each other.

I guess the warfare and sibling politics of sisters is a whole ‘nother thing. In Catching Genius, Kristy Kiernan’s lovely debut novel, there’s Connie, the practical, pretty musician, wife and mother, and there’s the fragile, mysterious Estella. Estella is one of the more interesting characters I’ve read about lately. She was a child math prodigy, a genius and the light and hope of her father, who had some shortcomings of his own to work out through her success. But what happens to the girl left behind when her beloved sister is diagnosed a genius? The choices made by Connie and Estella’s parents reverberate through their lives, and the lives of Connie’s children, one of whom shows some big gifts of his own. My only complaint is that when the bad guy is revealed, he becomes practically a moustache twirling villain. This book works best — and its best is awfully good — when the author delicately peels back the layers of old grudges, conflicts and grievances that have kept the sisters apart. Also, Ms. Kiernan sets the book in a gulf side community on the west coast of Florida, and makes the beach, the weather, and particularly the ocean, characters in their own right.

Kristy Kiernan is a founding member of an online writing community called www.thedebutanteball.com, and it’s worth a visit. Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Catching Genius, the debut novel by Kristy Kiernan.

For a first novel Kristy does a whole lot right. The book, set on the sun bleached gulf of Florida, takes the rhythm of the ocean and the weather and makes them part of the story. The story is a fascinating look at what happens to a family when one young daughter is diagnosed, as they call it, with genius. Young Estella is a math prodigy, and she and her gifts are exploited at the expense of her own childhood, and her relationship with her younger sister, Connie. Catching Genius takes us back and forth through the memories and experiences of both women, and made me look at both math and gifted children in a new way.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan.

Everyone wants their child to be special, but what happens to a family when one daughter is more than special; in fact a genius, a math prodigy? In this debut novel, young Estella’s gifts bring her exploitation and separation from her beloved younger sister Connie. As adults, the two women struggle to forgive their mother, their long gone father, and each other for a lifetime of misunderstandings. Set in a beach house on the gulf coast of Florida, Catching Genius is narrated by the two sisters. Connie is the voice of reason, trying to hold onto her marriage and her own children. The fascinating Estella’s sections are almost dreamlike, as she attempts to make sense of the numbers in her head.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Catching Genius, the debut novel by Kristy Kiernan.

There was a lot to love about this book, and for me it started with the setting, on the gulf coast of Florida in a beachfront mansion. I could smell the ocean, and feel the salt in the air. We follow the lives of sisters Connie — the pretty, practical one; and the star of the family, math prodigy Estella. Estella’s gifts haven’t brought her anything but unhappiness, Connie’s perfect suburban life is showing cracks at the seams, and their mother announces that the old family house on the beach is going up for sale. Catching Genius wanders from the past to the present as the two women try and figure out where their relationship went wrong, and if they even want to repair it. Catching Genius is by Kristy Kiernan. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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