Sunday, November 17, 2013

Catalyst by, Laurie Halse Anderson

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. (Via


Pages: 232


Release Date: January 28th 2002



     This is the second book I have read of Laurie Halse Anderson. The first book was Fever 1793 that I read last May for my Social Studies class. I enjoyed her writing from Fever 1793, also she is my best friend, Kylee's, favorite author. 
     There are two different covers of Catalyst. I have the one pictured above, and I love the cover shown above. It is beautiful. People say not to judge books by their cover but sometimes it is a good thing.
      I could relate to Kate with her running habit and strategy  She would usually run at her pace and wait for the others to slow down because they went to fast, then really start running. I do the same strategy in Track & Field, as well as anytime I go running.
     The general message I got from the novel was, "what are you without your intelligence?" I got that because Kate felt that all that was to her was her intelligence and without that she was nothing. It made me wonder, what am I without my intelligence? That is a hard question to answer. 
     There are a couple different definitions to catalyst. The one use for this novel is about chemical reactions, which applies to the novel because Kate is in AP Chemistry which was her strongest subject. Plus the part of her life shown in the novel was like a chemical reaction. Catalyst also happened to be one of the words she had to define for her Mythology 231 class, the class she happens to despise.  
     I knew since the start of the novel that she would not be accepted to MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even though I knew she was not going to be accepted it was depressing. To make matters worse, we then found out that her mother had gone there. Kate said that she was not always sad that her mom was gone, since she did not know her that well, but I feel like unconsciously she wanted to go to MIT to get to know her mom better. Kate actually did not attend her mom's funeral she had run away during it. That was how/why she started to run obsessively. 
    Since the beginning of the novel, I did not understand Kate's hatred toward Teri. She never quite understood why or how Teri used to beat her up in Middle School. Though I was not a huge fan of Teri when Teri stole both Kate's watch and heart necklace. So when Teri and her 'little brother', Mikey, had to move in with Kate's family after their house caught on fire I was not too mad or anything. I just did not like that Teri stole her stuff and bossed Kate around, but Kate could have stood up for herself or confronted her.
     I grew very attached to Mikey so when he got electrocuted when they were rebuilding the Litch's house, it was extremely depressing. Especially once you discovered that Teri was actually Mikey's mom not his big sister. Teri was such a wreck after Mikey's passing that she has to be sedated. Teri started to tear down the house because she was so enraged. 
    In the end, Kate decides to take a year off school and help Teri rebuild the house that Teri had destroyed. I like that Teri and Kate had gotten over their differences and became friends.
     Overall, Catalyst was funny, emotional, could possibly be based on true events, and included fantastic writing. I also have Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls that I will eventually read.


  1. Beautiful review, Casey! When I read the preview of this book, and it stated, "the same community as the remarkable Speak" I was already sold. Both of those books are written in a stunningly relatable style. I feel close to the characters, especially in both Speak, Catalyst, and Twisted (I recommend Twisted as well!). Twisted was actually written in a guy's perspective, and I find that Laurie really cares about the emotional attachments to her characters in all of her books. In Fever, as you've already read, I can also really believe in the characters, the realism in a fictional novel is actually quite hard to achieve, so I have a very deep connection to this author. Thanks for includin me, Casey!

  2. *Including

    ~Kylee :)