NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A young woman searches for the truth about her father—and the secrets of her family—in this “big-hearted debut that absolutely crackles with smarts” (Emma Straub). “A warm and funny debut novel . . . perceptive, wry, and witty.”—The New York Times
Two years out of college, Ellie Adler has a job in journalism, an older lover, and a circle of smart friends. Her beloved father, James, who has children from three marriages, unites the family with his gentle humor and charisma, but Ellie has always believed she is her father's favorite. When he suddenly dies, she finds herself devastated by the unexpected loss. Then, at the reading of his will, she 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 has ever heard of.
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. Moving, witty, and unforgettable, The Catch is a story of the gifts we’re given over the course of a lifetime, by family, friends, and strangers—the ones we want and the ones that catch us unawares.
About the Author
Alison Fairbrother is an associate editor at Riverhead Books. She worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., before getting her MFA at Stony Brook University. She lives in Brooklyn.
“[A] warm and funny debut novel . . . perceptive, wry, and witty . . . with well-wrought observation of the rhythm and patterns of grief. . . . Ellie’s careless behavior represents an underexplored and therefore exciting investigation into a family dynamic—one in which a daughter responds to her father’s reckless entitlement not by shrinking into herself, by becoming ultra-virtuous or self-destructive, but by acting out with similar reckless entitlement in turn. . . . The strength of this book [is] the depiction of a smart, talented and sexual young woman who is in the process of learning, as adults must, to balance pride with humility, pain with pleasure, and acceptable fictions with uncomfortable truths.”—The New York Times
“The Catch is a thoroughly entertaining and absorbing book by a writer who is brilliantly funny. I laughed, I cried, I thought about life. I now want to read whatever Alison Fairbrother writes.”—Susan Minot, author of Why I Don’t Write: And Other Stories
“This big-hearted debut absolutely crackles with smarts—the sentences are crisp, the story unfurls, the characters are just right. The Catch is a delightful read about love, loss, and the vulnerability of growing up.”—Emma Straub, author of All Adults Here
“In this wonderful, wholly absorbing family drama with a mystery at its beating heart, Alison Fairbrother asks, What are we owed by the people we love? The answers she provides are funny, sad, complex, and always surprising. I loved this book and you will too.”—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
“The Catch is about the mysteries left behind in death, but, importantly, it is just as much about the mysteries of living and the discoveries made while aching and searching and loving. This is a satisfying and wise novel by an author I will happily follow anywhere.”—Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us
“The Catch is an intimate family drama about secrets and what we are willing to do for, or hide from, those we love most. Alison Fairbrother’s writing makes her characters, with all their flaws and weaknesses and desires, feel like people you know. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Washington, D.C., The Catch unfurls in entirely unexpected directions and had me utterly engaged from the very first page.”—Anton DiSclafani, author of The After Party
“Fairbrother’s debut is characterized by its elegant yet comfortable prose—readers will feel at home with Ellie as if experiencing the story’s events along with her. The mystery drives the plot, but Ellie’s personal growth is the heart of the novel. . . . This layered coming-of-age story will appeal to fans of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Unsinkable Greta James (2022).”—Booklist
“In Fairbrother’s perceptive debut, a young journalist is left reeling and looking for answers after her father’s sudden death.”—Publishers Weekly