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Catcher, Caught Paperback – December 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

National Book Award Winner Kathryn Erskine Interviews Sarah Collins Honenberger

Kathryn Erskine is the author of Mockingbird, the 2010 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature. She recently interviewed Sarah Collins Honenberger about Catcher, Caught, inspiration, and why she writes for young people.

Inspired by J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, (and the fact that today’s younger readers aren’t as inspired by it), Sarah Collins Honenberger gives us a compelling book about Daniel Solstice Landon who wants to follow in Holden Caulfield’s footsteps. The heartrending thing about Daniel? He has cancer and doesn’t have long to live, particularly since his hippie parents don’t believe in standard cancer treatment. As the discussion questions at the end of the book highlight, what exactly is a minor’s right to receive treatment? Against his parents’ will? And while that might feel clear and justifiable, how far along that line of minors’ rights do we go? And how do your actions affect others, even if you’re dying? Fascinating issues, and all of them are raised here with snappy dialog and humor, as well as sobering seriousness. But I should let you hear from the author herself rather than me. --Kathryn Erskine

Erskine: Why did you write this book?
Honenberger: Headline stories about kids whose parents refuse to follow standard medical treatment fascinated me. It’s hard to contradict your parents, but the possibility of dying raises the stakes. Coupled with the typical immortality teenage boys feel. I wanted to explore that 16-year-old boy’s point of view in the face of a fatal illness, to see if I could find out what might change his mind about that automatic belief in his own invincibility.

Erskine: Who or what has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
Honenberger: In my 30 years of family law practice, I saw lots of families in distress. The wide discrepancy between what each party in a crisis feels and sees is one of the biggest reasons for family conflicts. Writing out those crises can illuminate those divergent realities. Stories often help people"walk in someone else’s shoes."

Erskine: Why do you write for young people?
Honenberger: I didn’t set out to write for young people in Catcher, Caught, but when I heard that today’s teenagers weren’t connecting with Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, I thought that was a tragic loss. Holden’s story, his sadness, was a crucial part of my youth, seeing how quickly someone could feel lost and disconnected. I hoped by letting Daniel tell his story that today’s teenagers might connect with Holden’s issues, his sense of fairness and generosity of spirit despite his being on the outside, and his failures. In the end, even with his confusion and depression, he defends a strong morality in his analysis of suicide, sex, relationships with his brothers and his sister, and in how he treats the other prep school boys.

Erskine: How do your ideas come to you?
Honenberger: Something I overhear or see on the side of the road. It’s a visual, usually, that starts me thinking, why was that woman yelling or why was that man wearing his wading boots.

Erskine: What’s an important "nugget" that you’d like readers to take away from your book?
Honenberger: Life is shorter than you think and you’ll get more out of every experience if you remember it’s about the experience, not about you.

From Publishers Weekly

A few months after doctors tell him he has only a year to live, a precocious 15-year-old from a small town in Virginia has an intense reaction to “The Catcher in the Rye.” Deriving inspiration from Salinger’s narrative, Daniel Landon questions peoples’ intentions and authority (asking himself, “What would Holden do?”), all while experiencing moments of pure pleasure (especially with his new girlfriend). Daniel makes bold choices in what he believes to be his final year, but also sympathizes with how his hippie parents have struggled with the news of his illness. Not “rule followers themselves,” they decide, without consulting Daniel, that he should forgo chemo and use herbal remedies instead. He does as he’s told and, as a result, is confined to their small houseboat most of the time, reading, doing homework, and pondering teenage stuff (“Parents should never discount the social pull of being physically present at school”) and non-teenage stuff (“I know she’s going to fall apart when I die because our sleeping together was the first time”). Despite the countless references to Holden and Catcher, the narrator’s engaging voice and his quirky family make this a poignant story for young adults and for adults who have forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager. --This text refers to the manuscript reviewed as a part of the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935597108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935597100
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,770,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Three years out from cancer surgeries and treatment, I'm still inspired by all the courageous people I met, but am writing full speed ahead, albeit with a deeper sense of the value of humor and not squandering the time we're given with the people we love. Writing fiction satisfies my sense of adventure in the everyday, ordinary people put to the test in all kinds of ways by ordinary and extraordinary events: the 14-year-old sister who can't save her brother from drowning, the mother of a vaccine injured baby, an old cowboy who ran away from a pregnant wife forty years earlier, the 16-year-old boy who tells it like it is as he struggles to live a whole lifetime in the year the doctor's give him once he's diagnosed with leukemia. For me, the miracle of writing is that mere words, albeit honed with a fierce red editing pen, can create these characters and make them friends.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ignore this book's official description, which makes it seem safer and more formulaic than it really is. In its subtle, understated way, it's every bit as challenging to the status quo as J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" was when it came out. Daniel Landon's efforts to wrest control of his dwindling life from his overprotective parents, misguided brothers, purblind officials, and self-centered friends showcases how little control most of us have over our real, difficult lives.

Everyone finds ways to diminish the reality of Daniel's lymphoma. His hippie parents try every treatment but doctors. His friends make plans for a future he knows he'll never see. His teachers deny anything is even happening. But Daniel has just discovered Holden Caulfield and wants to see through everyone's phoniness with such clarity. The problem is, Daniel has to learn the hard way that this isn't HC's world anymore, before he can seize control of his own life.

This book strays perilously close to maudlin territory in a few paces, and the abrupt ending doesn't resolve enough for my money. But the crystal-eyed clarity of vision more than makes up for these minor shortcomings. Honenberger shines a light on the way we keep children passive and dependent, and all the tools they use to assert dominion over themselves. I haven't read a book that tells the truth with such unstinting candor in quite a long time.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Donald Capone VINE VOICE on January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Narrator sixteen year-old Daniel Landon has leukemia, and may only have a year to live--even if he does have the chemotherapy treatment his doctors suggest. But his hippie parents decide to give him alternative herbal treatment instead, and pull him out of school (too many germs being around other kids). Shouldn't he have a say in his own life, and what treatment he receives? Isn't it important, too, to be around his school friends and have a social life as his life winds down? Will his parents ever acknowledge his opinions? Even with the weight and worry of his own mortality on his mind, author Sarah Collins Honenberger does a good job of reminding the reader that young Daniel can still have plain old teenage worries. Like, does that new girl (Meredith) in the neighborhood actually like him? And what Halloween party should he attend, his best friend's or the rich kid's, who may have eyes for the same girl Daniel does.

Feeling more and more isolated--both because of his illness and his removal from school--Daniel turns to the voice of The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield for guidance. Holden, of course, is the unhappy, cynical sixteen year-old kicked out of his prep school, and trying to find himself in New York City before returning home to face the music. But Holden has his whole life to figure things out--Daniel has only a year. Honenberger's teenage protagonist never allows himself to become cynical like Caufield, even though he has every reason to. Daniel instead seeks to gain control over his life (or death), and wants the responsibility--whatever the result. He loves his parents, but what if they are making the wrong decision?

Written in the first person (as is Salinger's book), author Honenberger does a good job getting into the head of her lead character.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judith Paley VINE VOICE on November 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Daniel Solstice Landon embraces all that may be left of his abbreviated life with admirable enthusiasm and more energy than one might expect of a young man with untreated acute myelogenous leukemia. While I found his ability to carry on with teenage escapades and rites of passage despite the advancing AML a bit unbelievable, this disconnect did not diminish my enjoyment in this wonderful read one bit. What distinguishes a great fiction writer, after all, but the ability to convey the human condition in a way that is true if not real?

One can't help but remember newspaper articles on parents who refuse conventional treatments for their children with life-threatening illnesses. More questions than answers in these tragic snippets, parental rights, children's rights, medical ethics, quality vs. quantity of remaining months or years. Ms. Honenberger does an incredible job of fleshing out those factual outlines in this heart-rending story of a wise-cracking, precocious adolescent and his holdover hippie parents. This fifty-something mother/author proves herself completely capable of remembering first love, the perilous temptations of sex and drugs, and the mother and child reunion despite disappointments, anger, and misunderstandings.

Gut-wrenching, funny, tear-jerking, this well-crafted novel certainly works on the adult side of the aisle, and I have no doubt that young adults will want to have at it as well. Those of us who read "The Catcher in the Rye" decades ago will dig it out for another pass, and younger readers who've not yet had the pleasure will want to get their own copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Ruggieri on February 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
I learned a lot about today's teenagers by reading Catcher Caught; not only about the brave, young hero, Daniel, but also about his friends, and how all of them interacted with the adults in their lives. Teens have real problems that we adults sometimes quickly ignore, or dismiss as "typical teenage behavior." But, these young adults often have to handle their fears and conflicts well, without the help of the grown-ups in their lives. The author gives us teenagers with good sense, some success and failings, and lots of humanity. I want my grandchildren, all teens, to read this book.
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