Friday, January 13, 2017

Speaker: Kim Culbertson

Kim Culbertson Website
Kim Culbertson: Award-winning author of five YA novels. Much of her inspiration for her novels comes from the work she’s done as a high school teacher for the last eighteen years.

Review Snippet: "Culbertson writes with sensitivity and sympathy, crafting an entertaining but perceptive character study." --Kirkus Reviews

Workshop Title: The Writing Life, Session 1, 10:50 - 11:50

Lunchtime Author Round table, 12:00 - 1:00

Panel Discussion Moderator: 3:55 - 4:45

Workshop Description: Kim will discuss some of her trials and triumphs in her own writing life and practice as a way of exploring what you seek in your own writing life. She'll leave plenty of time in the session for your questions so be sure to bring them!

Kim is the award-winning author of the YA novels Songs for a Teenage Nomad (Sourcebooks 2010), Instructions for a Broken Heart (Sourcebooks 2011), Catch a Falling Star (Scholastic 2014), The Possibility of Now (Scholastic 2016), and The Wonder of Us (Scholastic 2017).

Much of her inspiration for her novels comes from the work she’s done as a high school teacher since 1997. In 2012, Kim wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students, who, over the years, have taught her far more than she has taught them. She currently lives in Nevada City, CA, with her husband and daughter.

amazon.com description:

Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn't plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-get-escorted-out kind of meltdown. And she definitely didn't plan on never wanting to show her face again.

Mara knows she should go back,only she can't bring herself to do it. Because suddenly she doesn't know why she's been overachieving all these years. So Mara tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and with a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding real life, Mara can figure things out.

Except Tahoe is nothing like she thought it would be. There are awesome new friends and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara find a balance between the future and the now, or will she miss out on both?

Highlighted Review:
on March 7, 2016
Format: Hardcover

I am unfamiliar with Culbertson’s other books, but “The Possibility of Now” inspires me to check them out. This book presents us with strong life lessons that are unaffected by age, as complex as relevant, and are completely universal to all readers. We should 1) Be brave, 2) Never give up, 3) Learn to focus on what is best for ourselves, amongst other themes.

Our protagonist, Mara, from San Diego, moves to Squaw Valley to live with her father, Trick Hale, after a humiliating video of her having a total meltdown in Calculus goes viral on Youtube. She leaves her prestigious school and scheduled life for a less aggressive, free-reign lifestyle in Squaw. There, she gets to challenge herself athletically (skiing), mentally (by staying atop homework assignments via an online portal), and socially (becoming a part of a world unbeknownst to her and making new friends).

Each character we come across, as Mara grows to know them, challenges or enriches Mara’s philosophies. Trick reminds us that life is to be experienced, not just lived to “be good at it.” Isabel shows us that you can balance school and your personal goals, successfully, without one coming before the other. Beck is our story’s second debbie-downer, (Mara being the first); he informs Mara that school is just black and white, and to learn the gray area, you need to experience and self-educate (even if his choices aren't always the best). Oli is our grandfather of wisdom, reminding us to find peace in nature and appreciate the small things. Lastly, Logan is the boy every girls wants, and teaches Mara that there is more to life than to-do lists, like enjoying your friends, appreciating books, making your own decisions, and following your heart [By the way, the love triangle doesn’t do much for me. I agree with other reviews that it ends before it starts, barely giving us a chance to make our own decision on which boy is worth chasing.]

I definitely have to admit that a book that takes us on ski breaks is not one I would usually enjoy, but “The Possibility of Now” managed to make an exception for me. However, I will say that I was surprised of just how frequently Mara completely ignored her other “life requirements” to do so.

Regardless, I was drawn to this book, refusing to put it down until I finished. Mara is as convincing as she is troubled, and although she doesn’t necessarily get her way in the end, she managed to be brave and embark on her own journey. The experiences she faced are hauntingly present in our own lives and it’s nice to see these woven effectively in story. 4.5 stars from me!

1 comment:

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