Book Link: Goodreads
Kim Culbertson is back with another fantastic new novel about what happens when you’ve been planning for the future, but everything falls apart now.
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-walk-out kind of meltdown. And she didn’t plan on a video of it going viral. And she definitely didn’t plan on never wanting to show her face again.
Mara knows she should go back, but suddenly she doesn’t know why she’s been overachieving all these years. Impulsively, she 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 wiht a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding the real world, Mara can figure things out.
Only Tahoe is nothing like she thought. There are awesome new friends and hot boys and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara stopping planning long enough to see the life that’s happening right now?
Inspiration is a tricky thing to pin down but, as I’ve spent the last eighteen years teaching high school, I know that much of my inspiration comes from my students. In my first novel, SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD, Calle has moved fourteen times in eight years so she keeps a song journal as her only constant. When she hears a song that reminds her of a time in her past, she writes down the memory that comes from hearing that specific song. My students are passionate about their music and this idea came from watching them work on a school project I’d given them to create a soundtrack for a book we’d read. My students have inspired parts of all my novels. I took sixteen students to Italy for a spring break and INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART grew out of that experience. I overheard a conversation with two of my students about fame and that became the spark of an idea for CATCH A FALLING STAR.
In my newest novel, THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW, the inspiration came from watching many of my students wrestle with stress and anxiety about their futures. I’ve seen them struggle to balance their emotional, social and family lives with the pressure of individually achieving for a future they’ve been told they want. I spent ten years as a college advisor and each year it felt like the process got even more intense. I’ve long thought that too much of our educational (and extracurricular) culture relies on external reward, high-pressure comparison, and the idea that young people should be certain about their futures before they truly know who they are or what they want. I’ve also watched the way online culture has impacted my students and wondered about the correlation to the rise in teen anxiety. THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW explores these themes against the backdrop of Tahoe, a place I often go to unwind, but that also has its own complex, specific culture.
Mostly, though, I’m inspired to write because it helps me to answer questions I have about human behavior. I’m fascinated by what makes us all tick. Ultimately, in all of my writing, I want to find hopeful, honest answers to my questions. Writing novels has been the window into some answers for me.
About the Author:
Kim Culbertson is the author of Catch a Falling Star; Instructions for a Broken Heart, a Northern California Book Award winner; and Songs for a Teenage Nomad. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she teaches high school creative writing. Kim lives with her husband and their daughter in Northern California. For more about Kim, visit http://www.kimculbertson.com.