cover image Catch & Release

Catch & Release

Blythe Woolston. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-7613-7755-9

When 18-year-old Polly reflects on the idea that what doesn’t kill one makes one stronger, she’s not thinking about herself. She’s referring to a local staph outbreak that killed five people and maimed two, including Polly. “It ate my eye and part of my cheekbone. It left behind a mess of bumpy pink scars that twists the corner of my mouth up on one side like I’m a half-finished Joker.” Her future plans (and her former boyfriend) now belong to the “Polly-That-Was,” and she spends her days watching TV until she hears from fellow survivor Odd Estes, who lost a leg to the infection. A fishing trip in his old Cadillac becomes a road trip to Portland, Ore., as Polly tries to understand the twist of fate that has scarred her inside and out, while she attempts to keep an erratic Odd in check. Morris Award–winner Woolston (The Freak Observer) forces readers to re-evaluate life’s random cruelties and the idea of “survival,” as she brings her characters to the brink of death, then tosses them back in the water. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)