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Carpe Diemby Autumn Cornwell
Synopses & Reviews
“Ive got my entire life planned out for the next ten years — including my PhD and Pulitzer Prize,” claims 16-year-old overachiever Vassar Spore, daughter of overachiever parents, who in true overachiever fashion named her after an elite womens college. Vassar expects her sophomore summer to include AP and AAP (Advanced Advanced Placement) classes. Surprise! Enter a world-traveling relative who sends her plans into a tailspin when she blackmails Vassars parents into forcing their only child to backpack with her through Southeast Asia.
On a journey from Malaysia to Cambodia to the remote jungles of Laos, Vassar sweats, falls in love, hones her outdoor survival skills—and uncovers a family secret that turns her whole world upside-down. Vassar Spore can plan on one thing: shell never be the same again.
"Take a traveler as reluctant as Anne Tyler's accidental tourist and add the number of misadventures found in The Out-of-Towners, and you have the recipe for Cornwell's hilarious, adventure-packed first novel. Valedictorian hopeful Vassar Spore has her summer all planned out when her bohemian grandmother somehow blackmails her Type A parents into letting her take Vassar backpacking through Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. So instead of enrolling in AP courses in summer school, Vassar finds herself hiking through jungles with Grandma Gerd and an Asian cowboy chaperone, and battling food poisoning, venom-carrying critters and primitive tribes (one of which holds Vassar hostage). The more humiliations and unwanted surprises Vassar endures, the more likable she becomes, shedding pride and primness along with her obsessive reliance on routine. Her rapid succession of crises, while jaw-dropping, appears more plausible than the family secret that is revealed bit by bit during the course of their travels. Although readers will probably figure out the mystery long before the protagonist does, the exotic settings and the wacky predicaments will exercise a strong enough grip to hold readers' imaginations. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is self-confessed travel junkie Autumn Cornwell's first novel — and she's hit one out of the park. Her heroine is 16-year-old Vassar Spore, daughter of overachievers and the author of a complete list of Life Goals, beginning with acceptance by the elite college she was named for. But Vassar's plans for a super-productive summer at home in Seattle are scuttled when a package arrives ('For me?... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) I wasn't expecting anything. I'd already received my Jumbo Wall Calendar for the next school year.'). It's a birthday gift from Vassar's nomadic grandma, currently in Southeast Asia: a round-trip ticket to Singapore and the offer of an 'all-expenses-paid summer vacation backpacking through Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos.' Vassar goes, with 10 pieces of luggage and a laptop for her novel/memoir, and enlightenment predictably ensues. ('Live in the moment' is just the beginning.) But so does hilarity, as Cornwell genially skewers both Ivy League-obsessed nerds and the Lonely Planet crowd. Elizabeth Ward can be reached at warde(at symbol)washpost.com." Reviewed by Elizabeth Ward, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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In this delightful romantic adventure, a 16-year-old overachiever learns how to seize the day.
When a world-traveling relative blackmails 16-year-old Vassar Spores parents into forcing their only child to backpack with her through Southeast Asia, Vassar is faced with things she isnt prepared for. In learning how to live in the moment, Vassar uncovers a family secret that turns her world upside down.
July 27th: I'm freezing. My head itches. I can't remember the last time I had a shower or anything to eat besides sticky rice. This is not how I planned to spend my summer--or end my life. If only we hadn't answered the door that rainy night in May . . .
About the Author
Squat toilets, profuse sweating, bamboo huts, jumbo centipedes—these are just some of the delights Autumn Cornwell has encountered in her global travels. Not to mention the cant-believe-its-true Laotian jungle adventure which inspired Carpe Diem.
A travel junkie, Autumn has explored 22 countries and counting. Shes spent the last couple summers working with refugees and orphans in Burma, Thailand, and Laos. Southeast Asia remains close to her heart since her days as a missionary kid in New Papua—where she ate her weight in guavas and mingled with reformed headhunters and cannibals. Which was nothing compared to navigating the intrepid jungles of the TV & Film Industry, where she spent most of her career.
Autumn lives in Los Feliz, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, with her husband JC, and their son Dexter. This is her first novel.
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