pages ; [paperback] 232
favorite characters ; mikey & sara
Meet Kate Malone-straight-A science and math geek, minister’s daughter, ace long-distance runner, new girlfriend (to Mitchell “Early Decision Harvard” Pangborn III), unwilling family caretaker, and emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, things change as suddenly as a string of chemical reactions; first, the Malones’ neighbors get burned out of their own home and move in. Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri’s little brother. The days are ticking down and she’s still waiting to hear from the only college she applied to: MIT. Kate feels that her life is spinning out of her control-and then, something happens that truly blows it all apart. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will change the way you look at the world.
I love Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing and this book is no exception. This is actually a reread, as I read it long ago from the library and actually purchased the book not too long ago because I knew it would be more relevent to me now. Going from my eighth grade self who knew nothing about colleges to the current me who just applied to them, now I can really understand how Katie is feeling. Even if everything wasn’t the surprise it was the first time around, I felt like I could connect with the characters better.
Kate is one of those girls who gets obsessed with grades, how smart she appears to be, and what she can accomplish. I think everyone must know someone who puts their grades and careers before everything else and is so focused on such things that it becomes unhealthy. I think she’s an extreme, but not entirely unrealistic, example. She annoyed me, but I wanted to help her, and then I really didn’t like her, and then I wanted a happy ending for her.
The secondary characters in Anderson’s books are always fabulous and this was no exception. From Teri to Mickey to Kate’s dad, everyone had their own problems, secrets, little idiosyncracies. I loved every bit of it.
This was a really quick read though it was everything but light. It was packed with colorful descriptions of her downward spiral toward collapse and failure. Failure isn’t something Kate can accept, at all. And Catalyst tells of her attempts to avoid it at all costs.
I recommend it to fans of modern day reads, easily relatable ones, teens in high school, and people looking for a good, powerful tale.
TRAGIC BUT TANTALIZING. 4/5 stars