Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

From the outside Kate Malone, or "Good Kate," as she refers to herself, is an honor roll student, science fair winner, and exceptional long-distance runner. Being the daughter of a widowed minister, Kate inherited the responsibilities of a mother at a young age, doing the laundry for the family, making the meals, making sure that her younger brother takes his medications, and keeping her father's calendar. While she does all these chores she simultaneously continues to maintain an above average scholarly record, good enough in fact to apply to MIT, her deceased mother's former school and Kate's dream school.
Appropriately titled CATALYST, Kate's story is about what happens when she chooses to apply to only one college. "Bad Kate" struggles with telling her father that she didn't choose any safety schools, her jealousies over her fellow students' early college acceptances, her insomnia and midnight runs, and her desire to be the absolute best at everything she does. She struggles to please everyone, at the risk of not pleasing herself. However, when her former enemy Teri Litch's house burns down, Kate's loses control. Teri and her little brother are forced to move into Kate's house and Kate must tend to their every will. While living with the Malones, Teri skips schools to rebuild her house with some volunteers in the community. One day, Kate decides to help out after school and when they are almost done, they decide to take a break and rest on the front porch. Teri then asks where Mikey is, her little brother, and they search through the house for him. Tragically, they find him dead on the ground. They immediately call the ambulance while Teri is screaming, "My son! My son!" Kate later finds out that Teri's father had raped her, therefore, that was the reason why he was in jail.
The rest of the book is about Teri trying to get over the tragedy while Kate is trying to help her and to become friends with her. It is also about how Kate learns how to stop making life so hard for herself and to relax and live in the moment, like finding a new college to go to because MIT did not accept her. In the end, Kate and Teri become friends and Kate begins to ask her father for help because she realizes she cannot take care of everyone on her own.

Question #1: Why do you think Kate only applied to one school?

Question #2: How do you think Teri's son, Mikey, died?


Brandon M. 1-2 said...

1. Kate applied to only one school because, being the perfectionist that she is, she will only go to the single "perfect" school that she chooses. Nothing else will work for her because she is so used to having everything her way by being in charge.

2. I think Mikey died by a heart attack. That guess is of course based on absolutely no prior information and it very well could have been some other cause.

Sara D. 7-8 said...

Well, Brandon, you do know that the house is under construction. Therefore, some things in the house have not been taken care of yet, so there's a hint for you.

Andrew C 7-8 said...

2. I think that the stairs to the basement was not in yet and Mikey fell down the hole in the floor to the basement.

Hannah K. 1-2 said...

She most likely only applied to one school because she could not imagine not being accepted and going anywhere else, as she is a perfectionist.
Mikey could have died from a construction accident, or something unavoidable, like an aneurysm.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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