Life of Pi – Nothing to do with Math

Liz McCurry, Electronic Resources/Reference Librarian

Liz McCurry READ Poster

The Life of Pi / Yann Martel

I remember reading this book years ago, and it has never left my list of  my top 3 favorite books (even with the emergence of the Twilight series).  The reader follows a young boy through his religious journey where he questions his Hinduism heritage with practices of Christianity and Islam. Ultimately, a shipwreck brings to light those answers he was seeking.  Pi, the main character of the story is just a small boy, but takes the reader through his 200+ days at sea by describing the wildly imaginative experiences with vivid intensity.   Make sure to read the book from front to back because the ending has a twist that will make you question everything.


The peripatetic Pi (the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The scenes flow together effortlessly, and the sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel’s potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader’s defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi’s life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal.

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