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Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson July 15, 2009

Posted by Lisa in Teen Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews.
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Laurie Halse Anderson

New York: Viking, 2002

ISBN: 0142400017

Age: 14-17


Catalyst is about 18 year old Kate, a preacher’s daughter, who has to have complete control of her own life.  Ever since her mother has passed away Kate has been taking care of her younger brother and her father.  Kate is determined to get into MIT; the same college that her mother had attended. 

Kate loses control of her life when she is hit with one problem after another.  First, she receives a rejection letter from MIT.  Second, Terri, a bully from school, along with her family moves in with Kate after a fire damages Terri’s house.  Finally, tragedy strikes when Terri’s brother (child) dies from a terrible accident. 

I wasn’t all that impressed with Catalyst.  The story itself started out okay, but then the ending really blew it for me.  The story just didn’t create a sense of depth with the  ending.  I was hoping that Kate and Terri would resolve their differences and become friends.  The story implied this at the end, but it just didn’t happen.  The writing style was okay.  Kate narrated the story with traditional dialogue among the characters.  The characters and the story can be connected to real life.  I just think Laurie Halse Anderson could have developed the plot a little  more and provided the readers with a more satisfying ending.  The cover itself is definitely intriguing with the large eye displayed on a blue smoky background along with the title.


Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron July 15, 2009

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someda this pain






Someday this Pain will be Useful to You

Peter Cameron

New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007

ISBN:  9780374309893

Age: 18+


James Sveck is a confused 18 year on the brink of adulthood.  Living in New York City with Gillian his sister and divorced mother, James searches for his direction in his life.  James is undecided about going to Browns University and has no idea what his sexual orientation may be.   He is drawn to fellow employee, John, at his mother’s Gallery where he works.  James makes a mistake of pretending to be another person on an internet social network.  John unknowingly asks James out to learn that James is the interesting male that John has been chatting with online.  Furious with James “joke” John threatens to quit working at the Gallery.   James is fired from the gallery by his mother for the infraction.  After being fired for the infraction by his mother James takes off to see his grandmother.  James often relies on his grandmother for advice about his problems. 

I wasn’t all that impressed with this story.  The style of writing was all dialogue or run on descriptions that made a boring story.  It took me awhile to figure out the plot because I was too busy trying to figure out what the paragraphs was actually saying.  This book is a challenging read and some college bound readers may find the story interesting, but I do not recommend this book at all.  The cover itself depicts a young man in pain with a white background.  The cover may attract the attention of readers that hold an interest for the topic, but most teens wouldn’t be interested in this type of book.  Also, after reading the first few pages most teens would be bored out of their minds.

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson May 16, 2009

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5Q * 4P * J * S
The First Part Last 
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 12 up. 131p.
by Angela Johnson

Find A Copy:

Martins Fery Public Library


Bobby, a 16 year old, talks about his experiences as a teenage father. The book is written in first person narrative and swings back and forth between then and now as Bobby talks about his life before becoming a father and after his daughter is born. Bobby who love his daughter Nia is determined to raise her despite the tremendous responsiblities in raising a child.  Bobby has many issues to deal with as a young father.  The book provides the reader with many life issues about being a teenage parent.

The cover with a picture of Bobby holding his daughter draws a reader in and teenagers in 9th – 12th grade will have much to think about as they read this story about life, love, loss of innocence, and teenage parenting.   



How I live Now by Meg Rosoff May 9, 2009

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How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now/Meg Rosoff New York : Wendy Lamb Books, c2004; 194p


 0385746776 (trade)

038590908X (library binding)



5Q * 4P * J * S

Daisy, the narrator of the story, is 15 years old when she is sent to live with her cousins, Piper, Edmond, Isaac, and Osbert in England. Daisy and her cousins ends up having to take care of themselves as Daisy’s Aunt leaves on a mission of peace to Oslo for a peace summit. England is attacked and occupied by an unknown enemy while Daisy and her cousins live day to day in their own “magical” world without adults. All is perfect, except, Daisy and Edmond fall in love despite being cousins.

Then the war intrudes on the cousins and they are separated from one another. Daisy and Piper is sent away to live in a distant village while the boys are kept near their home. Daisy and Piper are determined to be reunited with their family but they soon learn the realities of war as they try to survive on their journey back home and to Edmond and Isaac. The intrusion of the war, the need for Survival, and the responsibility for caring for Piper helps Daisy to grow from a self-centered disgruntled teen to a more mature person. Daisy begins to cope with her Anorexia and other problems when simple survival becomes more important than refusing to eat while others are starving.

The style of the story is wonderful. The first part of the book is written in a unique way that make the reader feel as if Daisy is telling the story while sitting in the same room with the reader. Later, the style changes to a more traditional style of the written word with quotes. This change between the spoken and written word provides the reader with the sense of time passing and Daisy growing up between the two parts of the book.

The book is wonderful, funny, romatic , and tragic at the same time.  It keeps readers at the edge of their seats wanting to know what happens next. I simply couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know if Daisy and Piper were going to find their cousins and what was going to happen to Daisy’s and Edmond’s love after the war ended.  The narrative conversational writing style of the book was very powerful and made the story seem real.  However, the lack of details about the unknown enemy left a great deal of questions.  I kept wondering how the war started, who started it, and who was the enemy.  It seems that the war’s purpose in the story was to set the scene for the story of Daisy’s and Edmond’s romance and for the changes that occured in Daisy during her journey with Piper back to the farm. 

This story will appeal to teens between 13-17 years old. However, the cover needs some work. The cover is boring and doesn’t grab your attention. The cover may not excite a teenager; however, the story is just the type of story that many teens would love. It has all of the themes, love, war, suspense, survival, and loss that teens love to read about.