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Guest Review: Literace Reviews: The Catch by Alison Fairbrother

How well do you think you know your parents? The Catch by Alison Fairbrother follows Ellie, her inquiry into her recently deceased father, a tie rack, and a baseball. I was conflicted reading this book but there are definitely aspects of this book that appeal to a wider audience. Continue reading to see the positives and negatives of this debut novel.


A young woman searches for the truth about her father and the secrets of her family in this electric debut novel.

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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)


The Catch was a very easy read. I will not say that it is because it was incredibly compelling or page-turning. I also will not say that it was because it was light and fluffy. Honestly, it was a shorter quick read. 

There was certainly a depth of family drama that many will likely find familiar to their own lives; broken families resulting from many marriages, affairs, and children and all of the fallout and repairing that comes with that territory. Aspects of The Catch were heartfelt in Ellie’s memory of her father and her childhood. Her father would hold a summer Thanksgiving as a way to have all the children together for special holidays. Ellie’s father tried to keep his family together even though the only thing relating them to each other was him. 

Less Positives

This will unfortunately be a larger segment. The driving plot of The Catch is that her father left her a tie rack in his will, not the baseball that was an important physical reminder of their relationship. So she is seeking to figure out the mystery of this person that he left it to. While the mystery does get sorted out at the end (and I will say it was satisfactorily done and didn’t necessarily feel rushed), other things also fell into place in a way I didn’t like. 

This brings me to my next point. Ellie was certainly a flawed character, which makes the book more realistic, but she didn’t have much character growth. She resolves some things, but aspects (i.e. relationship with an older married man) just remain the same. Also, her not-perfect dad is eventually revealed to be very flawed in ways that were similarly avoidable. Rather than getting a more informed view of her father that helps to explain some of his choices, we just get a more in-depth view of an unfaithful man (in romance and friendship).

The Catch glosses over, doesn’t deal with, or views as unproblematic some complicated and conflicting aspects of the story and of Ellie as a character (hello affair with older man). Others were strangely or unnecessarily focused upon (no offense, ospreys). A greater focus on issues more central to the plot would have made The Catch a stronger book. 


The Catch was a strong debut book, but unfortunately, the flaws of the main character led to a lack of character growth. That is something I really need to feel connected to a book. The premise of searching for who got her cherished baseball from her father’s will was an interesting mechanism. I would certainly read another book by Fairbrother to see how their writing develops!

Find The Catch on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository


How flawed can the main character be before you lose interest in them?

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