Little Creek Press

Carpe Diem, Illinois by Kristin A. Oakley

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For decades, the small town of Carpe Diem, Illinois has quietly unschooled its children, eschewing tests and classrooms for real-life experiences. Now, long-smoldering political feuds and deep personal secrets threaten to explode. When her mother is hospitalized in Carpe Diem after an auto accident, teenager Tali Shaw, the daughter of a powerful state senator, finds herself at the heart of a vicious conspiracy to bring Carpe Diem down. Can prize-winning Chicago Examiner reporter Leo Townsend overcome his own demons and expose those behind the scheme before it's too late? And when the truth is finally revealed, can Carpe Diem ever be the same? Carpe Diem, Illinois is the winner of the 2014 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for non-traditionally published fiction and a finalist in the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year Awards.


In Carpe Diem, Illinois, Kristin Oakley weaves a tale of local political intrigue into a fascinating lesson in unschooling. Through the eyes of broken Chicago reporter Leo Townsend we begin to see the secrets that lie behind the fictional commune-like town of the title where there are no schools and the children are mostly left to their own devices. Ultimately, this satisfying debut novel teaches us that if we open our eyes and our minds, there is much to learn and those mysteries to us are not so mysterious at all. --Randy Richardson, author of Cheeseland and Lost in the Ivy

With a fascinating look at unschooling, Oakley combines classic Chicago dirty politics with small town charm, murder, mystery, and political intrigue... Carpe Diem left me not only entertained, but wanting to seize the day and apply some unschooling principles to my kids' summertime activities. -- --Susan Kaye Quinn, author of The Mindjack Trilogy, The Dharian Affairs Trilogy, The Debt Collector, and Faery Swap

A unique combination of small-town chronicle and political thriller that's likely to draw in fans of both genres. --Kirkus Reviews

Carpe Diem, Illinois, (A Leo Townsend novel) by Kristin A. Oakley, provides us a glimpse of the homeschooling experience while delivering a gritty story of murder and intrigue in small town America. Leo Townsend, Oakley's protagonist, is a tough guy reporter whose best piece of journalism has ironically been ghost written by an anonymous source. Determined to find out who is playing him and why, Leo sets out to unravel a mysterious murder in an otherwise sleepy town. Ms. Oakley ends the novel with the promise of more Townsend in the future, which is wonderful news for those who enjoy great mysteries. I selected Carpe Diem, Illinois from all of the great books I read this year because the hero has both an edge and a playfulness that proved to be highly engaging. --Jay Rehak, The Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book of the Year Finalist Judge

About the Author

Carpe Diem's unschooling lifestyle is based upon Kristin Oakley's own homeschooling experiences. Kristin unschooled her two daughters, founded two homeschooling support groups, wrote for Home Education Magazine, and offered workshops at the InHome Homeschooling Conference in St. Charles, IL. Kristin is a co-founder and the president of the professional writers' organization, In Print, a board member of the Chicago Writers Association, editor of The Write City Magazine, and is a writing instructor at the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin, just down the road from Carpe Diem, Illinois.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Little Creek Press. A Division of Kristin Mitchell Design, LLC; First edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0989978036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989978033
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pound