Catalyst, a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the remarkable story of a high schooler named Kate who learns plenty of new things about herself as well as others. Kate is a straight-A science and math geek, a long distance runner, a reluctant family caretaker, and a minister’s daughter. She believes that she can manage her own life, but when a series of events take place, Kate’s view on the world changes. After her neighbor’s house burns down, Kate has to share a room with the school bully, her enemy, Teri Litch, as well as her little brother Mikey. Time is running out, and Kate is waiting to hear back from the only college she applied to, MIT. As her life is spinning out of her control, something suddenly happens that blows her life apart completely.
As seen in one of Laurie Halse Anderson’s other books, Chains, the author clearly communicates what the characters actions, voices, and emotions. Anderson’s writing style is able to capture the attention of readers right from the start. I was able to vividly picture all the characters in my head, as it made it easier to understand what was happening in the story. Anderson creates a setting that makes readers feel as if they are involved in the book. When reading this book, I pictured the places I knew from the world around me, like a track field, a cafeteria, or a neighbor’s house. As seen in this quote, “Consider the problem of finding the limit for the following function when the value of x is greater than 1: lim 100n, n-> infinity,”(pg 80) I was really confused by at first, but after reading a couple more sentences, I was able to figure out what the quote was talking about. The book can become a bit confusing, especially with some of the science and physics vocabulary, but most of it was cleared up within a sentence or two. I recommend that you read this fiction novel if you enjoy stories that confront moral issues and beliefs such as religion, or something someone feels strongly about, or if you have an interest about science, physics, or math. Catalyst held my interest for almost all of the book. The reason for this is because sometimes what was going on seemed a bit confusing and a little hard to understand. Reading Catalyst showed me that there will be lots of struggles in my lifetime, and it takes time to overcome them.