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by Katherine Kottaras

THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER by Katherine Kottaras

St. Martin’s Press - November 2016

About THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER: After a nervous breakdown lands perfectionist Viviana in the hospital, her parents convince her to take things easy for the summer, even though it’s almost her senior year. She gets a job at the swimming pool of their Chicago apartment complex with her best friend Sammie, but even when she tries to deliberately slow down, life still feels like it’s spinning out of control. When Vivi and Sammie both develop feelings for the same boy, it threatens to rupture a ten-year friendship. It feels like things can’t get any worse, and then her father moves out. Real life turns out to be a lot more complicated, and a lot harder, than acing a standardized test.

About the author: E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing. She is the author of the YA contemporary novel, How to be Brave (2015) and the forthcoming The Best Possible Answer (2016), both from St. Martin’s Press/Griffin Teen. ekatwrites.com

Why I love THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER: There are A LOT of things I love about this contemporary YA novel about one summer when pretty much everything goes wrong for main character Vivi. First, it’s largely set in a high rise apartment building in the city. Vivi and her best friend Sammie spend their afternoons braiding each other’s hair and spying on the apartments they can see across the courtyard and making up stories about their inhabitants (and the “Nut” is a particularly terrific side character). They also hang out in the rec room at the top of their building which provides a perfect storm watching station—and this a particularly stormy summer literally and figuratively. I also love Sammie and Vivi’s friendship. Yes, they have their drama (especially when the guy Sammie likes ends up liking Vivi), but they are always there for each other. I want a friend like Sammie! Finally, this novel has a twist I did NOT see coming *spoiler alert* Vivi’s dad, who is always gone on business, has another, secret family!!!! The hypocrisy is not lost on Vivi. Her dad has always pressured her to get good grades, study hard, do great on exams, and go to his alma matter, Stanford (and that pressure, among other things, has driven Vivi to a nervous breakdown), but when she finds out his secret, he no longer has any power over her. Will Vivi survive this one, wild, stormy summer? This is a sparkling, authentic, and winning contemporary YA for anyone who has ever felt the pressure of being a teenager.

Favorite line: “Don’t let your mistakes define you.”

Praise for the author’s previous book, How to be Brave:

* Chosen as on of the best YA Novels of November by Bustle.com

* A Buzzfeed YA Book to Watch

* An ibooks best of the month

* Featured on School Library Journal’s Size Acceptance YA list

“Georgia’s realistically profane voice aptly captures her personality, carrying the novel; her traverse through grief and experimentation make for a believable and satisfying character arc. A thoughtful exploration of grief and life.” – Kirkus

“Kottaras’s debut traces Georgia’s struggles and triumphs as she reluctantly sets out to fulfill her mother’s final wish for her to try new things and be fearless. Georgia’s Greek-American heritage offers a distinctive backdrop for the novel’s themes of emotional healing and self-discovery, while Georgia herself emerges as a realistically flawed and genuine protagonist.” – Publishers Weekly

“The book’s strongest sections are the lyrical flashbacks that tell the story of her mother’s life and death, but Georgia’s struggles with weight and body image are also handled with care. A perfect book for anyone trying to figure out what they want their life to look like, and how to be brave enough to make that life a reality.” – Booklist

“Powerful and rare, How to Be Brave is a wonderfully told story with gleams of humor and wit that will inspire readers to live their lives for real.” – Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything

“How to Be Brave is a celebration of life, from the captivating open page to the emotional ending. Kottaras acutely and poetically depicts the painful struggle of re-finding yourself after a defining loss-and the stark effects of both success and failure along the way-in a lovely, heartfelt debut.” – Dahlia Adler, author of Behind the Scenes

“Just enough sass, just enough heart, and a narrator to root for. How to be Brave ushered me into another yet familiar world. Come along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.” – Ron Koertge, award winning author of Coaltown Jesus

“How To Be Brave does a cartwheel in your heart. It artfully reminds us that bravery forges a path through fear and grief.” – Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal, The Blue-Haired Boy, and the upcoming, The Lies About Truth