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

Mathematics has been an intriguing yet engrossing subject for many of us in school. Whether we liked it or not, our life leverages a good dose of maths in our everyday tasks and competencies. Did you ever wonder that maths could have solved mysteries and secrets in the history? If you reckon maths is always contemporary, probably you need to rethink. The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls by Tom Durwood takes you on a historical tour where young girls from different places, at different eras not only solved the big issues but also eked out their share of profit and glory.

It’s a collection of five stories, of varied length. These stories fall back on the STEM concept. It means that the stories are directly or indirectly take science, technology, engineering, and maths into account while narrating the events with proper characters. In nutshell, fiction mixed with maths. The first story features an Indian girl named Rupa aka Ruby Pi. She lives in London with her family. One evening police inspector Daniel Summerscale seeks her help to solve the silent murder mystery of a renowned mathematician: Anaan Warinda.

Rupa finds out the hidden diaries of Anaan to decode the secrets related to war weapons that may be used by the British to curb civil war in India, or by the Germans to gain superiority over Europe. From a maths point of view, Rupa finds out fluid dynamics and Bayes theorem were involved that risked the life of the ace mathematician.

The first story is long, terrific, and of course will leave a profound impact on the Indian readers. The characters are Indian, the victim was Indian, and the historical context about the battle of Tirah was Indian. Tom has narrated the tragic back story of warriors that lost their life at the hands of the Raj, who used a superior modern war weapon.

The core genre of the book is historical fiction. At times the author employed double narrative like in the first and the last story. The second story is back dropped against the early settlers of Mogollon, in the United States. It’s a combination of blackjack strategy of card counting and studying Coriolis Effect while shooting.

All stories are built around family allegiance and bonding. The girls who solved the challenges & mysteries, decoded or fought – all was for their family. In Shasha story two sisters rustle up two different ironic ramifications, one gets in an elite institution, and the other’s over smartness jeopardizes the family for prison.

The relevance of maths in the stories is not monotonous or one-field specific. Nearly all stories deal with different aspects of life such as celestial physics, risk calculations in finance and banking, fluid dynamics, architecture, and much more.

However, for laymen the book may pose some interruptions, as the author used technical words and terms that may need proper explanation before continuing with the story. Tom has placed the stories at particular historical dates. You may get the exact details of the events if you run a search online. The book is highly suitable to people who loved maths all their life and for students aspiring to have a career carved out of STEM.

Buy the book from Amazon/Kindle.


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