The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson, Point (January 26, 2016). ISBN: 9780545731461. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Anxiety goes hand in hand with the pressure to do well. For Mara James, on track to be top academic dog in her class at a private high school in San Diego, it’s like her alter ego. That is until the day she has a complete meltdown in calculus just before a test. She had what’s later diagnosed as a panic attack and turns a bunch of tests that are about to be handed out, into confetti while sobbing uncontrollably. She might have been able to live with that, but someone in her class caught the whole humiliating event on a cellphone and posted it online. Over 600,000 people have viewed her mega-meltdown and after hiding in her room over a holiday break, she wants out.
Out for Mara means moving in with Trick, the father she barely knows 700 miles north in Lake Tahoe. She’s seen him once when she was seven and he took her to the San Diego Zoo. Mom won’t talk to her about what led to their breakup and is less than thrilled about letting Mara go. In fact her reluctant permission comes with numerous strings including seeing a shrink and keeping up with the assignments she can access via a portal to stay current at her high school.
Despite initial misgivings, Mara soon discovers that there’s something magical about Lake Tahoe, a something that includes learning to see herself better, learning to trust new people, learning that lists aren’t always the best way to live and most importantly realizing, as one man she meets tells her “Most people don’t care what you’ve done. In my experience, they’re just trying to find their car keys.”
Following Mara’s journey from overstressed humiliation to feeling good in her own skin makes for a delightful read. It’s a book many teens dealing with the uncertainty of competition and family craziness will easily relate to. It’s a good addition to any library serving teens.