From Goodreads: “Two years out of college, Ellie Adler has a job in journalism, an older lover, and a circle of smart friends. Then she finds herself shaken by the unexpected death of her father, James. At the reading of his will, Ellie learns that instead of leaving her his prized possession–a baseball that holds emotional resonance for them both–he has left her a seemingly ridiculous, even insulting gift. Worse, he’s given the baseball to someone no one in the family knows.
In her grief, Ellie wonders who could have possibly meant more to her father than she did. Setting out to track this person down, she learns startling information about who her father really was and who she herself is becoming. Unforgettable, witty, and heartbreaking, The Catch is a story of the gifts we’re given over the course of a lifetime–the ones we want and the ones we don’t yet understand that we need.”
The Catch: A Novel (Amazon) is what some might call a new adult book, in that it’s definitely a step above young adult, but it’s about someone in their early 20’s trying to figure out how to navigate life. Ellie is working for an online magazine, has a ton of roommates, and is involved with a married man 15 years her senior. When her father suddenly dies, she’s left reeling at the loss. She was the oldest of her half-brother and sisters from three different wives, and feels her dad’s most precious belonging, his much-used baseball, should be given to her. It turns out her dad left the ball not to one of his children, but an unknown person. Ellie decides to track him or her down.
I thought a lot about my father’s sudden death when I was 14 and how I grappled with it. My dad had had a massive heart attack when I was 8 and was in the hospital from Labor Day until Thanksgiving. So growing up, I knew life was finite and the chances of my dad having another heart attack were pretty good since he wasn’t the best at changing his ways, yet it was still a shock when it happened, just as Ellie experienced. Both our fathers were young and it was unexpected.
Despite feeling some sort of connection to Ellie because of our shared experience, I really couldn’t figure her out. She makes some seriously questionable decisions that left me wondering if I was that stupid and outrageous at her age. But making stupid decisions is not new for Ellie: she’s been involved with a much older married man. I think that’s the major reason I couldn’t connect with her. And her married man isn’t all that special, anyway.
The answer to who gets the beloved baseball is underwhelming, and Ellie realizes her dad wasn’t quite the saint she thought he was. (Hello? He cheated on Ellie’s mom with his second wife, then wash, rinse, repeat with the third wife. I’m all for respecting your elders but brushing off this personality flaw because he’s your dad is a bit unbelievable when she claims to be a feminist.) And Ellie doesn’t seem to realize she’s repeating the exact same behaviors of her dad by carrying on with a married man. Luckily, at least the married man didn’t have kids.
Overall, while I had some connection to Ellie, but I didn’t think this book worked as well as it could have. If you’re younger like Ellie you might not find her actions and reactions that stupid, but as a middle-aged woman who has lived twice as long as Ellie, I was baffled and don’t remember making so many ludicrous decisions when I was in my early 20’s. It was a quick read and if you can overlook the problem of fooling around with a married man, you might find this more enjoyable than I did.
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.
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