In Fertile Soil: Stories of the California Dream, Mary Smathers presents the light and dark sides of contemporary California, the perseverance of its residents and the richness of its culture across a grand sweep of history. Smathers focuses on those who demonstrate tenacious resilience as they tackle adversity, accepting challenges they could more easily shirk. The characters you'll meet in these pages include:
• an elementary school principal who provides leadership for his impoverished Central Valley neighborhood
• a teenager whose father locks her out of her own apartment
• a minimum wage earner with three jobs who battles the shrinking value of her dollar in the Bay Area
• a suburban working mom forced to add cancer treatments into her busy schedule
• a homeless man and a finance whiz whose lives intersect on the streets of downtown LA
• two little boys who confront wildlife danger on the way home from school
Smathers concludes with five intertwined stories, drawing a loosely connected line from Mexican era and Gold Rush pioneers to their descendants at the development of Silicon Valley and on to today. The collection portrays the state's innovative, hard-working residents and quintessential landscape, a never ending target for dreamers.
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About the Author
Smathers’s interest in both the resilience of working people tackling adversity, and the historic roots and wide-reaching consequences of Silicon Valley’s innovative spirit, spring directly from living and working in California her entire life. She grew up in Silicon Valley during its infancy, before it received that ubiquitous moniker. Throughout her career she served as a high school teacher, administrator and educational entrepreneur, helping to found three education companies and a public charter school. She was repeatedly inspired by the complexity, diversity and endless work ethic of Californians as she crossed the state, working with tens of thousands of students and families throughout the East Bay and Central Coast to Central Valley towns, from inner city Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento to the Imperial Valley border region. Smathers is now based in Costa Rica where she lives with her husband and two big dogs. She is at work on a novel and more stories.