From the Publisher
"Leitch perceptively captures the ambivalence of a young man who’s tired of things as they are, yet uneasy about change. Characterization is quirky but heartfelt, giving a clear sense that people have lives unseen beyond the book’s focus This is a coming-of-age story that will reassure and enlighten even as it amuses—everything a good literary freshman orientation should do.
-The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
"Will Leitch's first novel is a coming-of-age story that will resonate for young people and adults alike. His main character's move from an unexamined existence to one in which he is fully engaged in the joy, the insecurity, the pain, and the challenge of life rings with authenticity and sincerity."
-James Frey, author of Oprah's Book Club pick A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard
"Teens will recognize people they know among these characters, some admirable, mostdeeply flawed, all genuine. This is a keenly felt and absorbing readabout this bittersweet rite of passage."
-School Library Journal
"For many, the Citizen Kane of young adult literature is Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (Simon & Schuster, 1996/VOYA June 1996).A decade later, this debut novel by Leitch is worthy of comparison to Rats for its heart wrenching honesty of voice and vision."
"Will Leitch's first novel provides an unvarnished look at what it's really like to grow up in small-town America today. Refreshingly honest, compulsively readable, and darkly funny, Catch will win legions of fans."
-John Green, author of Looking For Alaska
"Will Leitch's Catch illuminates with careful strokes a particular sort of coming-of-agethat of the Midwestern jockbut will appeal to any reader, no matter how dorky, no matter how urban. An honest and heartfelt book."
-Ned Vizzini, author of Be More Chill and Teen Angst? Naaah . . .
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[A] coming-of-age story that will reassure and enlighten even as is amuses-- everything a good literary freshman orientation should do." starred review.
Tim Temples has just graduated from Mattoon High School in rural Illinois. College at the University of Illinois beckons next fall but first Tim has to sort out a few things. Most of Tim's classmates are staying in Mattoon to work in the bagel factory. Tim must decide whether he wants to step away from the comfortable world of being a popular athlete in a small town or accept the frightening reality of change. Tim's summer job at the bagel plant introduces him to Helena, a young woman with some bark who works as the boss's secretary. Surprisingly, Tim gets to know Helena, and their relationship teaches him a great deal about himself, his past, and future possibilities. In the end Tim must make a hard but natural decision about moving on with his life and accepting the inevitability of change. Written with a loving touch and a wry sense of humor this title is a memorable novel. Will Leitch has crafted a coming-of-age story that is reminiscent of Gilbert Grape or Catcher in the Rye. In the person of Tim Temples, readers will meet a character that rings true and will stick in their memories. Tim's summer of searching for himself evocatively captures the world of blue-collar folks trying to stay afloat in small town America. This is a novel that adolescents and adults will enjoy and think about well after the last page has been turned. 2005, Razorbill, Ages 16 up.
Greg M. Romaneck
Tim Temples is somewhat of a celebrity in his hometown of Mattoon, where the other big thing is the Lenders Bagels plant and the upcoming Bagelfest. Everyone knows his family and the baseball talent that runs through their veinshis father and brother are both baseball stars with their own lost shots at the majors. Tim has always been big man in his small town, with lists of girlfriends that he often tossed aside at will. Then he meets Helena, the sassy office assistant at the Lenders plant where he is working for the summer. He is intrigued by and intensely attracted to her. Helena teaches him things not only about the world that awaits him, but also about himself. What starts out as another fling turns into something that Tim is not sure he wants to leave. Besides Helena, Mattoon is safe and he has his friends. Tim is not sure he is ready to start over where nobody will know him or his status. Catch starts out as the male counterpart to chick lit, but develops into something more as Tim discovers that he just might be able to, as he puts it, "catch" anything that life throws at him. Even secondary characters develop while the small town feeling is clearly and almost tangibly conveyed. Readers, boys and girls alike, will certainly be drawn into all of it. Sex is present, as is alcohol use, but not out of context, and Tim's views of both appropriately matures throughout his story. KLIATT Codes: SRecommended for senior high school students. 2005, Penguin, Razorbill, , Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-During the summer between his high school graduation and leaving for state college, Tim Temples works and drinks hard and discovers that he is not alone at the center of his own universe. In the course of about 15 weeks, he watches his older brother-a former baseball star like their father-degenerate socially and physically for no obvious (to Tim) reason. It's during this same time that he is smitten for the first time in his young womanizing life. Helena is more than five years his senior, hard-bitten by life and her own sarcastic attitude, and only Tim believes that the affair has lasting potential. Daytimes are spent working in a food packaging plant, hauling boxes, and noticing that his old high school friends are quickly fading into the "old men" who staff the plant year round. Only belatedly does Tim realize that he is different from most of his friends, most of his family, most of the town. He's leaving to be a college guy, in a world just down the highway but very far away in terms of prospects. Leitch draws readers to Tim slowly and places him within a cast of characters who are finely etched, realistic, and memorably quirky. Teens will recognize people they know among these characters, some admirable, most deeply flawed, all genuine. This is a keenly felt and absorbing read about this bittersweet rite of passage.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
On Friday night, Helena is lying on the couch. She’s wearing a pink T-shirt with a picture of a cute bunny smiling and waving on it. Beneath the bunny are the words Sometimes You Make Me Want to Throw Up a Little. The shirt cracks me up. Her head is in my lap, and I’m stroking her hair while she flips through the channels. There are a million of them.
This house looks just like every other house that’s owned by grown-ups in Mattoon, except a little bigger and with some Mission: Impossible security system. The kitchen is huge and immaculate, the family room has pictures of Jesus and little signs that say, Bless This Mess, and the television is placed in the strategic center. The whole place is designed to funnel you into the television room. If you brought a caveman who had no knowledge of modern technology into this house, he’d walk through the door and inevitably gravitate toward the couch, where he would sit and see if any NASCAR was on. The only two rooms that really matter here are the kitchen and the television room. Everything else is apparently where you rest up between those two.
I won’t lie: we would love a home like this.
Helena flips past two old white men yelling at each other on the news channel, a group of midgets playing tug-of-war with an elephant, and an inexplicable rock-paper-scissors tournament. She lands on some sort of reality television show where people tear apart a house. Girls always end up on the wrong stations when they have the remote.
“Yes!” she shrieks. “I thought this was on tonight!”
A young, blandly handsome man is telling us about the Bluth family. They live in Omaha, Nebraska, and their family home has fallen into decay. Mike Bluth, the dad, looks into the camera and says he’d love to fix the place up but just doesn’t have the money. The blandly handsome guy comes back, puts on goggles, and smiles. “It’s time to change the Bluths’ life . . . EXTREME MAKEOVER STYLE!” He then takes a sledgehammer and smashes it into some worn plywood posing as a wall, and the camera starts zagging all over the place and some cheesy music starts playing at a frenetic pace.
“I love this show,” Helena says, smiling. “Do you like it? Do you want to watch it?”
I never understand why people love these shows so much. I mean, when is Helena going to renovate a house? She can’t even keep her room clean. I decide that these shows are like porn. People can’t stop watching them, even though they’re full of stuff they’ll never actually do.
“That part where he started hitting stuff with the sledgehammer was pretty cool,” I say.
“Oh, come on, you’ll like it,” she says. “Half an hour in, you’ll be begging for more.”
So we watch the rest of the show. For the first half, the handsome guy—who never wears his goggles after that first shot—destroys everything in sight, and they show him firing up a chain saw ominously, though, to my eye, he never actually used it. (Which is a shame.) The family is sequestered somewhere, where they talk about how miserable their lives are and how that house is all they have in the world. The second half, after the place is a mess of drywall and two-by-fours, a perky, well-chested woman who absolutely cannot stop smiling comes in with some kind of crew and changes their entire house around, bringing in new furniture and painting it and turning it into something that doesn’t even remotely resemble what it was before. The place looks nice, I suppose, and the family starts crying when they see what blandly handsome man and smiling breast lady have made for them.
The whole thing seems empty and brainless to me. So some people got a new house. Big deal. The way that house looked initially, they’re destined to make a disaster area of the new place within a couple of months anyway. I’m about to make this observation to Helena when she looks at me, lit up and nearly teary-eyed.
“Wasn’t that incredible?” she says. “That place is beautiful! God, I love that show.”
“Really?” I say. “I mean, I guess the house looks nice, but so what?”
“So what?” she says, her voice rising. “Don’t you get it? Their lives have totally changed—like that. They were stuck in that place, stuck in their lives, and then, before they even realized it, they had a brand-new start. They can do whatever they want now. Wouldn’t that be great?”
A single happy tear rolls down her cheek.
“I guess,” I say. “It’s just a house.” But in that moment, I see it. I see it all through Helena’s eyes.
I see the disappointment she’s had to live through and the shitty hand that life has dealt her. I see what her dreams were—and how those dreams never came to be. I see where her anger comes from—and her hope—and exactly how a show like this can move her the way it does.
I know. I look at her, and I know.
I want to change Helena’s life. And mine. There is no question. I want them to change together.