Thursday, April 24, 2014


Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary: 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.

After meeting Laurie Halse Anderson at the LA Times Book Festival I put Catalyst on my to read list and soon after got it at Powells (aka book lover heaven). The majority of Laurie’s books deal with “big” topics (rape, PTSD, anorexia, etc.) and Catalyst was about a “normal” teen problem, not getting into a dream college. While this problem wasn’t as big as some of the others it is still huge.
Kate has made it seem like she has a perfect life. She gets straight A’s, she a science and math wiz, she has a good strong group of friends, and is in a healthy relationship. At home she doesn’t get along with her dad is the caretaker of her family. She doesn’t know how to deal with the stress of waiting to hear from MIT, making her deal with it by running at one am and barely sleeping. I think a lot of adults don’t realize the stress put on teens to get into a good college. I’m in ninth grade and whenever I talk with my parents friends I don’t see often I’m always asked two questions: 1) How’s school? and 2) what colleges do you like?/Have you been to any colleges?/*insert other generic question about college here*. So while the book didn’t cover a “big” issue it covered an issue I felt many teens could relate to.
As usual I loved Laurie’s writing and there are some of my favorite quotes (spoiler free of course) down below.

5 stars!!
I think this book should be read by anyone in high school.  The writing is incredible the issue is very present, and it is an amazing story.

“It’s like I’ve been chopped into tiny pieces of Kate, and all my pieces look like me and run like me and talk like me and act just the right way, but they are all lost in this maze. Bad Kate (still stalking me) says the maze has always been there I’m just seeing it for the first time.” (Page 135)

“My mask slips into place. I can hear the elastic bang twang, vibrate, then go still. I smile. ‘Thanks for listing about the college thing. You really helped a lot.’” (Page 189)

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