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-upthe- 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 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’s awesome new friends and hot boys and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there’s also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara stopping planning long enough to see the life that’s happening right now?
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My thing has always been my academics–-the tests and essays and the 100 books you're supposed to read before you graduate from high school (3 different lists cross-checked and compiled into a list of 216 books of which I still need to read 47). I have only, ever, gotten As. My goal: to be the Ranfield valedictorian. So what happens when you devote your whole self to a goal, you give your best self, but still fall short of it? I couldn't possibly have worked harder than I did, not and actually sleep, so that's not it. People think it comes easily for me, but it doesn't. I work my butt off for my grades. I stay up late every night, spend every weekend studying, no exceptions. I have taken schoolwork on every family vacation since I started high school. If I'm not playing tennis or sitting in class or going to choir rehearsal or eating dinner with my family, I'm working on school because I don't know how to want anything else. Be anything else. And then I had a very bad day and all that changed. I fell flat on my YouTube-viral-video-worthy face. So it's occurred to me in these last few weeks that somewhere along the line, I may have been given faulty information. Apparently, you can do your best and not achieve your goal. Turns out, you can't do anything just because you set your mind to it. Which changes things, doesn't it?