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Santa Monica School Teacher Becomes Debut Novelist


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April 18, 2018 -- For 20 years, Julie Clark has taught at Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica, studying alongside her students how stories are made. Next month, the years of teaching young readers is paying off in an unexpected way.

Clark's debut novel, "The Ones We Choose," will be released May 8 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster designed to showcase established voices and introduce emerging writers.

The book -- which tells the story of a a mother and son whose world is threatened by the unexpected appearance of her anonymous sperm donor -- has won rave reviews from bestselling authors.

"The Ones We Chooose" book cover

Caroline Leavitt, the author of "Pictures of You" and "Cruel Beautiful World," praised the novel's "gorgeous prose" and "deep emotional resonance," calling it "an absolutely dazzling, profound ruby of a novel.”

Karma Brown, bestselling author of "The Choices We Make," called "The Ones We Choose," a unique marriage of love and science" that "proves family is what we make it.

"Poignant and captivating, this is a read-in-one-sitting story!"

(Images courtesy Simon & Schuster)

Clark has deep ties to schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said District spokesperson Gail Pinsker.

She attended Roosevelt (where she currently teaches 5th grade), Lincoln and Samohi; her parents are both Samohi alum, and her children attend Santa Monica schools.

Clark began her teaching career at Will Rogers and in 2004 became a Cotsen Mentor teacher and coached teachers at Roosevelt. Four years later, returned to the classroom at the Montana Avenue campus.

In a post on Debutante Ball, a literary website that celebrates first-time authors and their books, Clark discussed how deconstructing hundreds of books with her students prepared her for the daunting task of writing a novel.

Author Julie Clark
"So many times, I’ve been struck by how an author has written a scene, and instead of blowing by it because I want to get to the end, I remember that my job is to grow emerging readers into master readers," Clark wrote.

"More than once, I’ve left school with my own scattered notes shoved into my bag, to apply to my own writing later. It almost feels like cheating, to be learning so much about my own craft alongside my students."

The fruit of Clark's teaching and learning, however, is not a book for middle grade students but a 94,000-word exploration of life the publisher says "effortlessly (blends) the fascinating world of genetics and power of familial bonds,"

"'The Ones We Choose' is about the science of love, how our DNA shapes us, and a mother’s fierce battle to protect her son while confronting what really makes our identity ours, what and who we choose to let in, and what and who we don’t."


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