a YA


comedy adventure

novel set



Praise for CARPE DIEM

“This is self-confessed travel junkie Autumn Cornwell's first novel—and she's hit one out of the park.”

The Washington Post


          “Suspenseful and wonderfully detailed, the well-crafted story maintains its page-turning pace while adding small doses of cultural insight and humor.”

School Library Journal, Starred Review


“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…. the exotic settings and the wacky predicaments will exercise a strong enough grip to hold readers' imaginations.”

Publishers Weekly

“A witty coming-of-age adventure.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The locale, Vassar's gaffes, and quirky characters—especially Grandma Gerd and Hanks—are what set this book apart.”



“…this first novel has its amusements and diversions, including Vassar's share of romance with a self-styled Malaysian cowboy. The best part, however, is the vividly realized setting. Cornwell has obviously been there and done that, and her novel is much the richer—and funnier—for it.”



Chosen as a fall IndieBound Pick ( formerly Book Sense)

New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age


Nominated for the Missouri's Truman Readers Award.


Nominated for the Rhode Island Teen Book Award.


Selected as an International Reading Association (IRA) Notable Book

One of Publishers Weekly’s “Children’s Galleys to Grab” for Fall 


"I've got my entire life planned out for the next ten years -- including my PhD and Pulitzer Prize," claims overachiever VASSAR SPORE (16), 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 to propel her to a 5.3 GPA and Ivy League fame.  Surprise!  Enter long lost bohemian GRANDMA GERD (60s) who sends her plans into a tailspin: she blackmails Vassar's parents into forcing their only child backpack with her through Southeast Asia.  

Vassar freaks out -- her entire academic career is at stake!  She can't believe her parents are insisting she go and that they refuse to reveal this so-called "Big Secret" -- this mysterious hold Grandma Gerd has over them.  But, being a Spore, Vassar soon transforms the negative into a positive by turning the trip into an extra credit novel for her AAP English class.

Vassar tries to immerse herself in her novel.  But what starts out as research turns into a series of misadventures from Malaysia to Cambodia to the remote jungles of Laos.  Accompanied along the way by a Chinese-Malaysian "cowboy" her age, Hanks, who's been assigned to be her "chaperone"!  Just what would her parents think???  This was not at all what she planned!  She 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.

Inspiration for CARPE DIEM

Posing in Souvenir T-shirts
Guavas!  My favorite SEA fruit!
Hiking in Northern Vietnam
Cambodian bullet-boat
Bad idea to ride on the roof!
Squat Toilet in Laos
Mosquito Man!
At Chiang Mai's Museum of Insects and Natural Wonders. A husband and wife team, who spent their lives researching mosquitos and insects.
Inspiration for the "Ruffled Beetle"
Chiang Mai Style
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