I love Laurie Halse Anderson - who doesn't!! I haven't read all of her books, but I hope to get through the few I haven't read soon. Catalyst, like her other books, was real and gripping. It wasn't at all what I expected, but it was great.
It's about a senior in high school, Kate Malone. Kate is one of the top students in her class, takes AP courses, and hopes to get into MIT (she really hopes she does because it's the only school to which she's applied...but no one knows that but her....). Her dad's a preacher and she does not share his views, but takes care of him and her brother and their home. She runs, runs, runs, too. Especially when she can't sleep.
Kate's life consists of doing her duties everywhere: home, school, work...but that pattern and organized life is completely turned upside down when one of her enemies at school, Teri Litch, ends up moving in with Kate and her family after Teri's family's house burns. Needless to say, Kate doesn't want Teri and little Mikey living with them, but there's nothing she can do. Teri made life awful for Kate when they were younger, and she doesn't seem interested in being any different this time around. What happens because of the move in, though, is unexpected and crazy.
Kate was a great narrator. I found her completely honest. She is a great student, but there are many weaknesses in her that she admits to as well. The book moved quickly for me, and though it didn't go the direction I expected it to, I was still pleased. I wanted a little more resolution than I got. I was satisfied with the ending, but wanted just a little more. Like many of Anderson's other books, this one shows real inner struggle. You feel for the characters and see life from a new point of view because of this book. A good read.