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4.2 134
by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Meet Kate Malone-straight A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, girlfriend, unwilling family caretaker, 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, like a string of chemical reactions, everything happens: the Malones'


Meet Kate Malone-straight A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, girlfriend, unwilling family caretaker, 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, like a string of chemical reactions, everything happens: the Malones' neighbors get burned out of their home and move in. Because her father is a Good Man of God (and a Not Very Thoughtful Parent), Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri's adorable, troublemaking little brother. And through it all, she's still waiting to hear from the only college she has applied to: MIT. Kate's life is less and less under control-and then, something happens that blows it all apart, and forces her to examine her life, self, and heart for the first time. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will make you think, laugh, cry, and rejoice-sometimes at the same time.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Laurie Halse Anderson, the novelist who penned the New York Times bestseller Speak and Fever 1793, grips us again with this solid, piercing book about a high school senior looking toward her future and the dramatic events that ground her to the present.

Kate Malone has only one focus -- getting into MIT. She's a chemistry whiz at school, and her heart is set on being accepted into the college of her dreams, but unfortunately, it's the only school she's applied for. When her minister dad comes to school to deliver "the letter," however, MIT's rejection is the spark that throws Kate's world into a tailspin. For starters, Teri Litch -- the school's senior tough-girl -- her mom, and her brother all wind up living at Kate's house after their house burns down. Teri has a tendency to swipe Kate's belongings, do only what she likes, and act like she's entitled to the run of the house. Kate begins to break through Teri's hard exterior over a house-rebuilding bonding moment, though, but when a horrendous and sudden turn of events brings their world to a standstill, the two oppositely charged girls must come together, finding a common understanding and taking stock of what's truly important.

If you liked Speak, you'll be completely enthralled with this powerful tour de force that's just as tense and gut-wrenching. The book's two main energies -- Kate and Teri -- interact with each other with prickly nervous uncertainty and frustration, and readers will pay thoughtful attention to the differences between these two characters' life-changing catalysts. A remarkable work for older teens that will sink deeply into their minds -- and which even includes a cameo appearance by Melinda from Speak -- Catalyst has the riveting formula to be another hit. Shana Taylor

Publishers Weekly
Like its cross-country-running heroine, Anderson's (Speak) latest novel starts off promisingly, then loses its pacing about midway through. The narrator, 18-year-old Kate Malone, has placed all of her eggs in one basket: she has applied only to her late mother's alma mater, MIT. Calculus is a cinch, chemistry is her favorite subject, even physics comes easily to her, but when her MIT rejection arrives, it acts as catalyst for the slow unraveling of her delicately balanced life. A preacher's daughter, she struggles between "Good Kate" and "Bad Kate" as she singlehandedly keeps the household running (her mother died nine years ago). Anderson excels in conveying Kate's anxieties and her concomitant insomnia, and frequently intersperses evidence of Kate's sharp humor (she calls Mitchell A. Pangborn III "my friend, my enemy, my lust"). But Kate's relationships with others remain hazy. While this seems to reflect Kate's state of mind, since she slowly shuts everyone out as her MIT-less fate becomes clear, her detachment may create a similar effect for readers. This aloofness becomes most problematic in the dynamics of her relationship with Teri Litch, who once beat her up habitually. After Teri's house burns down, she and toddler Mikey Litch come to live with the Malones, and the action escalates to the point of melodrama. Yet another tragic event spurs a reconciliation between Kate and Teri, but the underlying changes in the individuals that lead up to this event remain unclear. Teens will take to Kate instantly, but as the novel continues, they may be confused about what makes her tick. Still, the universal obstacles she faces and the realistic outcome will likely hold readers' attention. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Anderson, author of the acclaimed YA novels Speak and Fever 1793, returns to the same high school Speak is set in for another story of courageous but struggling young women. Kate, the narrator, is the daughter of a minister and a star student and runner. A high school senior, she has set her sights on studying chemistry in college. She is convinced that MIT, her dead mother's alma mater, is the only school for her—so convinced that she hasn't bothered to apply anywhere else. When MIT turns her down, Kate is devastated, but her growing understanding of the plight of a fellow student, scary, tough Teri Litch, puts Kate's own troubles in perspective and changes her life. Teri is a neighbor of Kate's, and when her house burns down Teri and two-year-old Mikey move into Kate's room, to her initial horror, while Kate's father mobilizes the community to help rebuild their place. When Mikey dies in a freak accident, and Kate realizes that he is not Teri's brother but her son (by their violent jailbird father), she decides in the end to put off any college plans and to stay to help Teri rebuild: "Our essence is in this room, the atomic products of breaking down two girls to their elemental selves: frightened, defiant, lonely." Anderson is a gifted writer who makes the complex worlds of teenage girls real to the reader, from the competitiveness and casual cruelty of high school to the wisecracks between friends to the families struggling to connect. These are often brutal worlds, raw with pain, but her feisty characters work at triumphing over their setbacks. Catalyst, with its rather melodramatic plot, is not quite as mesmerizing as Anderson's masterpiece, Speak, but anything by this author is wellworth reading. The chemistry metaphor is cleverly employed throughout, and readers will quickly become caught up in Kate's and Teri's dramas and struggles. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2002, Penguin Putnam, Viking, 240p.,
— Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Kate Malone is a high school senior, an AP chemistry student, and a runner. She does her best running at night, when she outruns ghosts and can soar in the comfort of anonymity. Since her mother's death, she has taken care of her father (a minister) and her brother. She is waiting for acceptance to MIT, her mother's alma mater, and feels that her very life depends on it. Teri Litch, a typical school bully, punches her way through most situations and is filled with rage that threatens to affect everyone she encounters. When her house partially burns down, she and her little brother, Mikey, are invited by the reverend to move temporarily into his home. Teri's world is imposed upon Kate's as they become locked in some type of cataclysmic mix that alters both of their lives. Eventually readers discover that some of Teri's anger comes from being raped by her father and, when Mikey dies in a tragic accident, they learn that he was really her son. Anderson uses great chemical titles and subtitles for the short chapters. However, there is too much happening too fast and readers are left with many unanswered questions, and an ending that seems neat but unlikely. This title has a good premise and some moments of fine writing, but it lacks the depth of characterization that made Speak (Farrar, 1999) so compelling.-Lynn Bryant, Great Bridge Middle School, Chesapeake, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Newton's law proclaims to every action there's always an equal reaction. For Kate Malone, life is a matter of scientific exactness, except that she is driven by her obsession to get into MIT. The conflict between running her life with the preciseness of scientific equations (calculations) and the religious beliefs and blessings of her minister father separates her into Good Kate and Bad Kate. When the rejection letter arrives (and she's forced to admit she didn't apply to any back-up schools), both Kates begin a meltdown; the catalyst is a destructive fire of a classmate's house and barn. Teri, the senior-class toughie and bruiser with whom nobody messes, and her two-year-old brother, come to stay at Kate's house while a corps of volunteers rebuilds theirs. An already combative relationship between the girls builds even as Teri throws herself into the renovation project. A terrible tragedy will shock readers as much as it threatens to unravel the progress folks have made. The first-person voice is gripping, with the reader feeling as though she's crouching inside Kate's head. Numbered like an outline, 2.3, 7.0, the chapters are labeled with scientific terms and safety tips that anticipate the introspective reactions. Intelligently written with multi-dimensional characters that replay in one's mind, this complex, contemporary story carries much of the intensity and harshness of Speak (2000). It confronts moral issues, religious conundrums, and the dynamics of emotions in young adult lives as two girls driven by the past and present realize their impact on the future. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
HL580L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson has received both the Margaret Edwards Award and the ALAN Award for her contributions to young adult literature. She has also been honored by the National Coalition Against Censorship in recognition of her fight to combat the censoring of literature. She is the author of the groundbreaking National Book Award finalist and Printz Honor Book Speak. She is also author of the critically acclaimed YA books Prom, Twitsted, Catalyst, Wintergirls, and The Impossible Knife of Memory. She has also authored a number of middle grade titles including The Vet Volunteers series, and the historical fiction Seeds of America Trilogy, which includes Forge, ALA Best Book for Young Adults Fever 1793, and the National Book Award finalist and Scott O’Dell Award-winner Chains. She and her husband live in northern New York State. Follow Laurie on Twitter @halseanderson and visit her at madwomanintheforest.com.

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Catalyst 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 134 reviews.
JBug_273 More than 1 year ago
The book Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson represents the valuable quote, “Never take anything for granted.” Anderson approached Catalyst as the sequel to her well-authorized book, Speak. The quality of this book is superb; Anderson made everything feel so real, as if you were apart in the story yourself. A straight A, math and science geek, minister’s daughter, and exquisite long-distance runner, Kate Malone, thinks she can face anything she’s given. But when her minded life starts to crumble to pieces, she faces situations she never thought she would have to experience in her life. First, Kate’s worst enemy, Teri Linch, has to share a bedroom with Kate after her house went up in flames. The only college she applied to, MIT, still hasn’t sent an acceptance letter for Kate. Her life is craving disappointment at the time; then something bizarre follows up everything that is going on in her life. It confounds the way she looks at the world. Laurie Anderson included the main idea for the reader to find themselves. It displayed what was really important in life. Towards the beginning of the novel, Kate was furious with Teri for stealing her jewelry. However, at the end, Kate realized that the situation was worthless to worry about. Catalyst definitely achieved getting its point through to the reader. Catalyst is a powerful and emotional novel that has put an impact on how I view the world, and most likely will changes yours too. It will astonish you with what Kate, Teri, and their families have to suffer with. Laurie makes the novel come to life, and always sends a message to the reader of her books. I highly recommend this book to any reader; it will keep you at the edge of your seat through all their adventures.
Beware_Of_You More than 1 year ago
**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS** As I write this review, I'm forced to remember just how much this book hurt me. It moved me, to say the very least, and I will never forget the story. There's no moment in this book that bored me, and I find that as an exciting feat in a novel, as I'm usually able to set down a book and face reality once again. But that's just the thing- this book was so realistic and easy to relate to that reading it is facing reality; problems in this book are so pragmatic for the main character that you just can't help but brace yourself for the off-chance that these problems will appear in your own life. Kate Malone would like to think that she's got it all figured out: she's going to MIT, no doubt, and she's got love down. But, per usual, ignorance is punished. Kate's allusion of a perfect life is broken down, and things go rapidly downhill, starting with a rejection letter from MIT, and then a neighborhood fire and some unpleasant new roommates. Once again, I'm drawn in by Anderson's unique style of writing, which leaves the most impeccable underlying tone overall. Both parts poetic and exciting, as well as heart-wrenching and witty, the pages will turn themselves and you'll be done before you know it. But, as always with a Laurie Halse Anderson novel, the story stays with you long after the last page is turned. Read with caution as well as an open heart.
KraziiReader More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a book one night and i couldnt find a good book but then a girl recommeded the speak series and the first book i read was catalyst it was great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how Anderson added Melinda Sordino in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No spoilers! Anderson writes many lovely books, and this one was the first one ive read from her. This book encouraged to read more from her. I really loved the plot, but trying to describe it would ruin some parts for people. I have a life similar to Kate's, and am longing wishing to go to MIT as well. I thought that this was an excellent read and perfectly portrayed the point of view from a teenage girl. It was full of humour, drama, adventure, and even teaches us a thing or two about chemistry and other subjects. Dont be afraid to see all the educational stuff in this book because it ties in very well in the book and really is interesting to know. For thise who are debating on whether to read this or not, really give it a try. Its a wonderful read and i gurantee it. Hoped this helps! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kate Malone is not ready for the unexpected twists and turns that are up ahead. She thinks she can handle all that is thrown her way, but she is proved wrong when several tragedies occur. This straight A student now has to deal with the agony and pain while she waits nervously for what she hopes is an acceptance letter from MIT, the one and only college she applied to, to come in the mail. While dealing with this stress, Kate also finds out that her neighbor¿s house was damaged in a fire and she now has to share a room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and her little brother. Throughout these hard times, Kate sees that Teri has been stealing some of Kate¿s things and has become the boss of the house. But Kate, trying to be a good host, tries to ignore these things by running and keeping her head in school. Nothing could get worse right? Wrong. After a traumatic event, Kate¿s life goes out of control. She goes through several dramatic changes in her life for the better. She now realizes what really matters in life and what is unimportant. Laurie Halse Anderson connects to the adolescents that are now going through high school right now and working their way to maturity. Catalyst shows us what is most important in life without being obvious. Laurie Halse Anderson has captured the reader by making everything feel so real, as if you were in the story too. Plus, the way the cliffhangers were added made me want to read more. I also enjoy that Laurie has incorporated the science in her chapters. Knowing that Kate Malone is geek in science, I found it amusing how the author tied in these little details within each chapter that made me feel closer to the main character. What I found most inspiring was how Laurie Anderson had pulled in the main idea for the reader to find themselves. It should what was really important in life. From the beginning of the novel Kate was furious that Teri Litch had stolen some of her jewelry, but by the end of the novel Kate realized that none of that stuff mattered. She didn¿t need those things to be happy with her life. Catalyst was a very strong and emotional novel that has changed the way I look at the world, and will most likely change your view too.
-_book_-lover-_-101 More than 1 year ago
Catalyst, by Laurie Halse Anderson is a very emotional book. The author moves the story along perfectly, making this book hard to put down. Catalyst shows how two people can change their personalities, and become friends. Kate, the painfully realistic narrator, illustrates how running away (literally) from problems in life won't help anyone. Just as she finds herself stable, something changes and she falls apart again. She is forced to host the high school bully (Terri) at her house because Terri's house had burned down. Her life is a mess- until she meets Terri's son who brings her back again. When he dies in a tragic accident, Kate takes his death just as hard as everyone else. But as time passes, she realizes that Terri is worse off than she is, and Kate needs to be strong for her. This book made me cry and made me laugh all at the same time. The author really plays on the reader's emotions, and makes sure that you have no idea what is going to come next. Kate and Terri are unlikely, but inspiring friends that show you that everyone can change.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was rather disappointed in this novel compared to Speak and Fever 1793. I found it rather dull, and didn't have the same impact as the others. I really think she wrote this more in a rush job, and wish she hadn't. Either way, I was hoping for much more than I read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I though Speak was a better book, this book had un developed annoying characters, it was sad but i still hated it i would not ecommend this book i am an avid reader and this book kind just pissed me off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book at least 10 times and would totally read it again. One of my favorites
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
This was an okay book. And that's pretty much it. Okay. Just okay. Blurb writers (that's totally the right job title, right?) need to really think about the pressure they put on books. "Catalyst is a novel that will change the way you look at the world." Really? Yeah... no. A merely okay book can't do that or else it wouldn't just be okay. Blurbs filled with sensational promises and comparisons to other authors are common. And it's always so disappointing when a book doesn't live up to its blurb. So disappointing. I really shouldn't put so much into blurbs, but I just can't help it. I will say that, story wise, Catalyst was nothing like what I expected from the blurb. It went down a path that I certainly didn't see at all. That wasn't my problem with the story, though. My problem was just wasn't interesting. Yeah, the big twist was interesting, but that's it. That lasted for all of a couple of pages. Everything else that Kate deal with, or maybe it was just Kate herself, was boring. So uninteresting storyline paired with characters that weren't really likeable and a slightly brief (albeit interesting) twist thrown in made for a book that was plainly okay . You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
regia4ever More than 1 year ago
Another Excellent book by Laurie Halse Anderson! I loved the characters and the way they interacted with each other.  I read it with my 13 years old daughter and it gave me opportunities to have conversations with her about difficult topics. I highly recommend it
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Mentions Speak and of Melinda, and well what happened afterwards. A small scene and the reason why I picked up the book in the first place. But for the rest of the book it was alright, good but alright. Love the author's writing style though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lol! I REALLY enjoyed it! Laurie has done it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing!! Buy it. Read it. Love it. Its really good!
niago98 More than 1 year ago
I personally love Laurie Halse Anderson, but this book was just not up to par with her other books like Fever and award winning Speak. Some events were just not fitting in with the plotline and the book went all over the place. it was hard to follow. If you really read it though, it is a pretty good book. a new plot, definitely something that no one else has written about. It had good characters, just not one that really fit in with the story. Anderson is a great writer but this one was definitely not one of her best pieces. I just felt that the ending was off. There was no climax in the book, just bits of a story jammed together. Don't read this if it will be your first Anderson book.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson is a sequel/companion to Speak. It's set one year after the events of Speak. This novel is narrated by Kate Malone: straight-A senior, science and math whiz, and daughter of the local reverend. Kate's also a great runner, which is good because Kate's been running from a lot of things: Kate has been the family caretaker since her mother died. She hasn't been sleeping as she waits to hear from her dream college (she runs instead). And now Teri Litch, Kate's nemesis, and Terry's little brother are living with the Malones. Kate tries to ignore all of these problems by running and keeping her head in the sand. Besides, things couldn't get any worse. Until they do. You'll have to read the book to figure out what happens next because I don't do spoiler reviews. So now we can talk about the book in technical terms: The book is broken up into elements (solid, liquid, gas) and features quotes from an AP Chem prep book. Most of them are straightforward enough to be understandable and relate to the story. Kate also makes use of scientific elements for her narration without being overly scientific (AKA confusing/boring). I greatly admire Laurie Halse Anderson. She's a great writer and she never comes off as smug or pompous in her interviews at the back of her books. Even better, Anderson is a fresh voice. That said, the voice here was not as fresh as it was in Speak. In other words, Kate's narration sounds a lot like Melinda even though they are completely different characters. That bothered me. I like that Anderson's prose is so snappy and often sarcastic, but it was weird having two disparate characters narrate in almost the same voice. Given the connection between these two books, I suppose comparisons are inevitable so I'll finish the thought: Melinda is a more likable narrator than Kate. That makes a difference. Ironically, the increased dialogue in this book (Melinda does not talk throughout most of hers) doesn't make the characters more developed. The minor characters, particularly Sara and Travis, remain flat: developed enough to be quirky but not present enough to be memorable. This might be because Kate's social circle is larger, giving Anderson more characters to fit into the narrative. The other thing to bear in mind about Catalyst is that it is not the same kind of book as Speak. Kate's path throughout the narrative, and her way through her problems, is very different than Melinda's. (If you haven't guessed yet, Kate's path involves a lot of running.) This book also has a different appeal. Speak seemed more universal, the scope for Catalyst is more narrow. Anderson does a great job of capturing the anxiety and drama that surrounds the college application/acceptance process. She also creates a compelling study of the silent, overachiever that seems to be at every high school. More importantly, Anderson shows that those achievements don't always come without a cost. Overall, Catalyst is a good book. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it. But Speak was a great book that was, overall, more powerful than its sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SLArlyn More than 1 year ago
John Greene gave me a list of great books that he too enjoyed and the Catalyst was surely there.I enjoyed reading it and felt that I too was experiencign the events.Some characters will make you mad, but soon find that they are surely great.Sad and tragic things happen but is worth at the end as the main character discovers a great part of herself and who she is sorrounded by.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kate malone is just a teen and does not konow what she is in for when her neighbor/ enemy teri has to live with her! then teri's little bro dies! :( :( he was only like 2 also! then at the end teri and kate work together to make the house how teri wanted it 2 b!!! :D
HannahSHS More than 1 year ago
Catalyst is a novel about a young girl, Kate, who is overwhelmed with being an over achiever. Her life consists of acing chemistry, being a track-star, living motherless, and hopes of getting into M.I.T. Although the stress of all this is not the worse, when Teri, the schools bully¿s, house burnt down, she was forced to come live with the local pastor. The pastor just so happened to be Kate¿s dad. Life takes a lot of unconventionally twists as Kate deals with what she has to do with her future as well as what to do with Teri and her little brother Mikey. The author did really good job at keeping cliffhangers at the end of chapters and maintaining an interesting plot. However the ending of the book was not one that I would like to brag about. I was highly disappointed in the same manner that Kate was in regards to M.I.T. Although she changed a lot as a person and was able to bond with new people and work through some hard times, she still did not maintain the relationship with her friends that I deem fit. The overall moral though did shine through, part of the reason I had a hard time enjoying the ended was because it was a bitter truth. The theme showed to me that sometimes you need to be able to give up yourself to be able to further someone else¿s life. As true as this it, is doesn¿t make for a happy ending all the time. I would still recommend this book for others though because of the great writing skills and taste of reality. I personally took away that being an overachiever doesn¿t always end up the way you want it too. Sometimes no matter how hard you work, you can¿t avoid tragic incidents. Reviewed by Hannah.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard this book was pretty good so I decided to read it. At first I really liked it since it seemed to be about this girl who is just worrying about her future. But then the story seemed to take a turn...and a wrong turn at that. It ended up being pulling away from this worried, lost girl to her hanging around with Teri and her son. I don't know I guess some people would think it was good, but once Teri became part of the big picture the whole book went downhill. She never even told her father about not applying to safety schools which I thought she would do and I hated the ending. Anyway if some things were a big different I'm sure this could be a great book. But for me it's just okay.