"I’ve 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 women’s 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 Vassar’s 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: she’ll never be the same again.
Vassar Spore. 16 years old. 5.3 GPA. Named after a very prestigious women's college by her parents. She's got everything planned for her life, and I do mean everything. She vows to spend her summer improving her academics by attending a bunch of classes. But just when she's about to embark her classes, she receives a birthday package from her grandma in Southeast Asia. What's in the package? A plane ticket to Singapore and a birthday note from her Grandma Gerd. Grandma Gerd offers an "all-expense paid summer vacation backpacking through Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos". Hows' that for a change of plans? And of course her parents had an instinctive reaction by turning down the offer. How could she miss her AP English classes, or Advanced Advanced English classes and many others? Then Grandma Gerd phoned and her parents tried to keep Vassar away from hearing their conversation. Yet, Vassar managed to grasp some odd words from the conversation and it all somehow led to The Big Secret. Then her parents gave in to the offer and Vassar was convinced that Grandma Gerd had said something to them to make them give in.
Vassar's curious about this Big Secret and her brainy friends help her try to figure it out, but they just can't. And her parents were determined not to let Vassar find out the truth. So Vassar went on the trip complete with her 10 suitcases, and she's very well equipped let me tell you that. Both Grandma Gerd and Vassar went on a very adventurous trip. And Grandma being a very eccentric, free spirit, live-in-the moment kind of person and Vassar being...well, not. It definitely adds something to the book.
I love the adventure and humor in Carpe Diem. And I have gone to some of the places she went to in Cambodia and Malaysia. I like how Autumn Cornwell described the scenery of the countries in the book, and it was almost a deja-vu for me. From the crowded atmosphere of a local restaurant in Malaysia and to the feel of the heat at the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. I love traveling and reading this book made me want to go out into the world, and find the adventurous side of me. Nothing in her life has prepared Vassar for the things she experienced in the book. She met this Malaysian cowboy personality, Hanks. He really tested her nerves, although his delightful ways got to her as the story progresses. He's basically her guardian during her trip I really love Hanks in the story, even though he also annoyed me in the beginning of the book. The humor found in the story is so outstanding, I find myself laughing out loud at them. Vassar encounters some difficulties during the trip and she deals with them in such hilarious ways. She faces some extremely embarrassing situations, such as, the squat toilets.
The book was full of interesting places, humor but I think this book was really about how Vassar changes and grows as a person throughout the story. I love seeing her gradual change and she emerges as a better person when the book ended. This book had a great pace, it was delightful, it was sweet, it was funny and I couldn't put it down. A fantastic read!