The Possibility of Now
Point, February 2016
Tahoe, what a fantastic place to get your bearings. For Mara James, a visit to Tahoe is a return to her roots, roots she didn’t know she had, as well as an escape from the stress she’s experienced at her high school in San Diego.
Mara’s goal at school is to become valedictorian of her class. She’s on track—straight A’s in her AP classes, all the right activities, and extra studies at summer science camp. Then, during a calculus exam, Mara has a huge melt-down. She shreds not only her test, but also those of several other students. Not only that, but someone videotapes the whole scene. The YouTube post gets 10,000 views, and Mara is too devastated to face her classmates.
The sixteen-year-old decides to move to Tahoe and live with her “biological father” for a few months while she figures things out. She learns to ski, falls in love with the scenery, and has more fun than she’s ever had. Is she running away from her problems, or is she just taking a break?
The characters, both adolescent and adult, are well-developed and intriguing. I didn’t want to leave them when I finished the book. Mara’s dad, her old and new friends, her ever-evolving lists of experiences she must have while she’s in Tahoe, including “kiss a cute snowboarder,” all help Mara learn more about herself. She must deal with her perfectionism, her pushy mother, and the high expectations of the private school she attends on scholarship. But, she must understand her own needs and abilities before she can know how she can best fit into it all.
In this coming-of-age story, Kim Culbertson writes about high-achieving, witty, talented young people. These kids have the same parental, technology, self-confidence, and self-understanding issues as do teenagers everywhere. The story is entertaining, and the lessons are made clear for YA readers and above.
Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, May 2016.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections, Furtive Investigation and Nine LiFelines, the first three Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.