Catch & Release


I should have died quick. But I didn't. I'm a miracle of modern medicine, only the medicine doesn't get much credit, I notice. People say I'm lucky, or I'm blessed, and then they turn away.

I'm not the only miracle. There's Odd too.


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Catch & Release

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I should have died quick. But I didn't. I'm a miracle of modern medicine, only the medicine doesn't get much credit, I notice. People say I'm lucky, or I'm blessed, and then they turn away.

I'm not the only miracle. There's Odd too.

Polly Furnas had The Plan for the future. Get married to Bridger Morgan, for one. College, career, babies. Etc. All the important choices were made.

It was all happily-ever-after as a diamond-ring commercial.

But The Plan did not include a lethal drug-resistant infection. It did not include "some more reconstruction and scar revision in the future." And it certainly did not include Odd Estes, a trip to Portland in an ancient Cadillac to "tear Bridger a new one," fly fishing, marshmallows, Crisco, or a loaded gun.

But plans change. Stories get revised and new choices must be made.

Polly and Odd have choices: Survival or not. Catch or release.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When 18-year-old Polly reflects on the idea that what doesn’t kill one makes one stronger, she’s not thinking about herself. She’s referring to a local staph outbreak that killed five people and maimed two, including Polly. “It ate my eye and part of my cheekbone. It left behind a mess of bumpy pink scars that twists the corner of my mouth up on one side like I’m a half-finished Joker.” Her future plans (and her former boyfriend) now belong to the “Polly-That-Was,” and she spends her days watching TV until she hears from fellow survivor Odd Estes, who lost a leg to the infection. A fishing trip in his old Cadillac becomes a road trip to Portland, Ore., as Polly tries to understand the twist of fate that has scarred her inside and out, while she attempts to keep an erratic Odd in check. Morris Award–winner Woolston (The Freak Observer) forces readers to re-evaluate life’s random cruelties and the idea of “survival,” as she brings her characters to the brink of death, then tosses them back in the water. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Polly had her whole life planned out. She knew who she would marry, where they would live, and how perfect it all would be. That was before MRSA. That was before a flesh-eating virus destroyed her face. The new Polly has no one except Odd, an athlete until they amputated his leg to save him from the same virus. When Odd shows up one day to take her fishing, the two of them embark on a lengthy, confusing and deeply moving journey. Odd, with his actions bordering on insane, slowly draws Polly out of her isolation and helps her find a way to accept her new self. This is a book readers have to stick with. At the start Polly seems self-pitying (and justifiably so) and Odd bizarre; both are characters that are hard to relate to. Often you want Polly to stand up to Odd rather than passively accept his odd, and often rude or obscene behavior. But as the story progress, you see Polly's subtle change from victim to maybe survivor, and begin to understand why Odd behaves the way he does. This is a beautiful story that rings true. It lacks any big epiphanies, but instead showcases grief and the overcoming of it in a more realistic light. It is not a book struggling readers will have patience with, but more advanced readers who are willing to stick it out will be rewarded. There are scenes of casual drinking and drug use, along with sexual references, but nothing graphic and all is relevant to the story. An insightful, beautiful read. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
ALAN Review - Meghan Anderson
Polly Furnas's plan was college, career, and babies. That was all before MRSA, a lethal and drug-resistant strain that disfigured her face and took her eye. And as far as Polly's concerned, took her future, too. No friends visited her in the hospital, not even her boyfriend, Bridger. But Odd Estes did hang out with her; then again he was already there. MRSA stole his leg and his dreams of a football career. They had that in common, that and fishing. Once out of the hospital, Odd and Polly embark on a fly-fishing trip. The two MRSAtouched teens begin a road trip where they face their new futures, futures that are unfamiliar and uncertain. Through grappling with their alienation and fears, Polly and Odd start to realize who they really are. Their pain and discoveries create a compelling and beautiful tale of trials and triumph. Reviewer: Meghan Anderson
Kirkus Reviews
Eighteen-year-old Polly recounts her road trip with Odd, a fellow survivor of the disease that killed five others from their small town, in D'Elegance, his Gramma's old baby-blue Cadillac. Fishing is ostensibly the purpose of their outing, and it symbolically charts the way the two teens process their disabilities. Polly once had a boyfriend and a sense of a normal future, and she now calls her former self "Polly-That-Was," since Bridger has vanished with the disfigurement of her face and loss of an eye from MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Odd Estes lost a foot as well as some football buddies, and although the two barely knew each other before, they both now struggle to accommodate their good fortune in surviving and their misfortune of disability. Swearing, booze and weed are along for the journey, which takes them from their hometown somewhere near Yellowstone toward Portland, Ore. Neither teen is particularly articulate, but Polly's first-person narration is as snarky and devastatingly honest as she is. Odd and Polly move from isolation to a mutual connection that helps them deal with their pain. This is not a romance, but a tale of two people thrown together after their world has been turned upside down. Each is unique, vividly complicated and true. Engaging writing and characters lift this above the typical clichéd story of disabled teen. Heartbreakingly honest. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761377559
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2012
  • Pages: 210
  • Sales rank: 1,436,627
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Blythe Woolston works as professional book indexer for academic presses. She is the author of The Freak Observer, which won the ABC New Voices Pick award, the Moonbeam Children's Book Award, and the 2010 William C. Morris YA Debut Award. She lives in Montana with her family.

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