Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover

Review: Catch & Release


Catch & Release by Blyth Woolston

What it is about:  Polly Furnas had The Plan for the future. Get married to Bridger Morgan, for one. College, career, babies. Etc. All the important choices were made.  It was all happily-ever-after as a diamond-ring commercial.  But The Plan did not include a lethal drug-resistant infection. It did not include “some more reconstruction and scar revision in the future.” And it certainly did not include Odd Estes, a trip to Portland in an ancient Cadillac to “tear Bridger a new one,” fly fishing, marshmallows, Crisco, or a loaded gun.  But plans change. Stories get revised and new choices must be made.

Polly and Odd have choices: Survival or not. Catch or release.  (Summary from

What I thought:  This book got really good reviews on the book blogs I read when it first came out (2012), and I had been planning on reading it but things kept getting in the way.  I finally picked it up when it turned up on a list at my library of books which have never circulated.  And I’m really glad I did.  This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Polly and Odd are suffering from loss.  They are mourning.  It’s not just the physical loss of Polly’s eye or Odd’s leg.  It’s also the loss of the futures they had planned out.  When you expect your life to go one way, and everything changes you have to say goodbye to the life you imagined.  It is a real loss and it hurts to have to give up the future you dreamed of.

Polly thinks Odd is the one with the problems but her road trip with him forces her to come to realizations about herself.  In the end the road trip with Odd was the best thing for Polly.  It forces her to confront her loss, both physical and emotional, and start to move on.  Odd pushes Polly but it is because he sees what’s going on with her better than she does.  And Odd is working through his own stuff too.

I was worried about the fact Polly and Odd are going on a fishing trip.  I don’t have any interest in fishing and was afraid it could get boring.  This book is so much more than fishing though.  It uses the metaphor of catch and release (a great one I may add), and Polly does fish, but you won’t get bogged down in the fishing aspect.

And what’s more….this isn’t a love story.  Yes, it is about a guy and a girl who go on a fishing trip turned road trip together.  Yes, Polly learns to like Odd and gets to know and understand him better by the end.  But this is NOT a love story.   They don’t fall in love, they never kiss, nothing, because it is about so much more than love.  It is about acceptance.  Learning to accept what has happened to you and learning to move on and build a new future for yourself.  The old future may be gone, but you can create a new and better future.

I recommend picking up a copy of Catch & Release.


Review: Wonder

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

What it’s about:  Middle school is hard for every kid, but for Auggie, who is about to attend school for the first time, middle school will an even greater challenge.  Auggie has had a facial deformity since he was born.  While he has undergone many surgeries his face still doesn’t look like your average face.  As Auggie puts it “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  Other than his facial deformity Auggie is an ordinary kid, he has no learning disabilities or special needs.  But can he convince the other kids in school that he is just like them?

What I Like:  This really is a heartwarming story.  Auggie is a very likeable character, and you feel for what he has to go through.  It is amazing how accepting and understanding Auggie is, especially given all he has been through.  Let’s be honest though, almost all of us have gone to middle school, and it is no picnic even when you look like everyone else.  Kids can be cruel.  There are those who are more accepting, so I believe Auggie would have friends.  I also believe other kids would be cruel to Auggie and his friends.  And it isn’t just the kids, but Wonder proves that some parents can be just as ignorant.

I like how the book changes character point of views with each part.  It is nice to see how his sister Via feels, because while she loves her brother it would be a difficult situation for her too.   We also get to see why those who befriend Auggie do so.


People fear what they are scared of, and people who look or act different scare people.  Sadly this is a fact which will not change anytime soon.  Those who are willing to look past Auggie’s looks are rewarded with getting know a great kid.

I really enjoyed this story.  I just wish kids really would learn to look past how someone looks and get to know them for who they are.  But like how we judge books by their covers, we also judge people by how they look.  Wonder teaches us that we must be tolerant of those who are different and teach our children to be accepting also.