Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catalyst
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Catalyst
Laurie Halse Anderson
Grades 6 and up

From the author of Speak and Fever 1793 comes Catalyst. In this novel, the focus of it is Kate Malone, a senior who is anxiously waiting to hear if she got into the only college she applied to—MIT. A Type-A personality, Kate runs her family’s household since her mother passed away. She cooks, cleans, does laundry, maintains her father’s schedule, hands out medications when it is time and takes care of her brother. All this while maintaining a high GPA, being a National Science Fair winner and a star athlete. When she gets her rejection letter, it acts as a catalyst and she begins a downward spiral and a period of self-examination. In the midst of all this, their next door neighbors’ house burns down. The two children, Teri and Mikey, come to stay with the family. Despite what Teri has done to Kate in the past, she is drawn to her. When the unthinkable happens, it shakes everyone to the core and forces Kate to rethink everything in her life.

With the two parts of Kate, referred to as “Good Kate” and “Bad Kate,” readers will find something to latch onto in this book. The story can be slow going if the reader is not interested in character development, the heart of this novel. If they enjoy such stories, than this could be a good possibility for them to try out.

Side note: this is set in the same town as Speak.The main character from Speak, Melinda, makes a few appearances but is not a huge presence in this novel.

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