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Catalyst    by Laurie Halse Anderson order for
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Kate Malone approaches graduation in the same way she lives her life. Flat out and running hard. She's is a little freaked out at not having received early acceptance to MIT. No problem though. She is ranked third at Merryweather High School (population 4,317). Her acceptance to MIT, the only school to which she applied, should arrive any day now.

Kate waits, maintaining her straight A average and handling her unusual family responsibilities with grace and efficiency. She knows she's lucky, but at night she runs for miles, afraid to face a future that is spinning out of her control. While Kate's life is full of so many good things good grades, sports, friends and a Harvard-bound boyfriend her archenemy, Teri, lives down the hill in very different circumstances. Their lives collide when Teri's family is burned out of their home. Reverend Malone, Kate's dad, temporarily takes in Teri and her little brother, Mikey. Teri is as off-the-wall psychotic as Kate is sane. Mikey is troublesome, but adorable. Kate pushes her own worries aside and adds Teri's and Mikey's problems to her own.

Teenagers will relate to the pressure Kate feels as she moves toward college. Kate's first-person, present-tense account is funny and immediate. Teri's story creates balance, but too much of it is left untold. Halse Anderson has used Merryweather High in another book. Be sure to look for a short visit from an earlier character.

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