graphic: the cover of Fig by Sarah Schantz

by Sarah Schantz

graphic: the cover of Ascend and Transcend by Kimberly Harding

Ascend and Transcend
by Kimberly Harding

Read with Us as We Share a Theme of Mental Health

CMC's Common Reader engages students, staff and community members and culminates with local author visits

This year’s common reader pairs Fig a novel on mental illness by Sarah Schantz, with Ascend and Transcend, a mental health and wellness workbook by Kimberly Harding. Harding is a Colorado Mountain College Professor of Biology, artist and author.

About Fig

Love and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother's schizophrenia and her own mental illness. Fig's world lies somewhere between reality and fantasy.  But as she watches Mama slowly come undone, it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is not, what is fun and what is frightening. To save Mama, Fig begins a fierce battle to bring her back. She knows that her daily sacrifices, like not touching metal one day or avoiding water the next, are the only way to cure Mama.  The problem is that in the process of daily sacrifice, Fig begins to lose herself as well, increasingly isolating herself from her classmates and engaging in self-destructive behavior that only further sets her apart.

Spanning the course of Fig's childhood from age six to nineteen, this deeply provocative novel is more than a portrait of a mother, a daughter, and the struggle that comes with all-consuming love. It is an acutely honest and often painful portrayal of life with mental illness and the lengths to which a young woman must go to handle the ordeals — real or imaginary — thrown her way. Fig was selected as one of NPR's Best Books of 2015 and won the 2016 Colorado Book Award in the Young Adult category.

Art and Creative Writing Contest Winners

Our contest theme is “Ascend and Transcend: Building Understanding Through Expression.” All CMC students and community members were invited to participate.

About Sarah Schantz

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz is primarily a fiction writer living on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado with her family in an old farmhouse where they are surrounded by open sky and century-old cottonwoods. Her first novel Fig debuted from Simon & Schuster in 2015 and was selected then by NPR as A Best Read of the Year before it won the 2016 Colorado Book Award.

Schantz's short stories, lyric essays, and poetry have been widely published in literary journals such as The Los Angeles Review, Hunger Mountain, Third Coast, and Midwestern Gothic (among others) and she has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.

She teaches the craft of creative writing at Front Range Community College and via her own private workshop series, She is currently working on her second novel Roadside Altars, but she admits to occasionally cheating on the book-in-progress by writing a poem, short story, or essay here and there.


Sarah Schantz will be speaking at CMC campuses the week of October 18-29.

October 16 – Breckenridge, 7 pm
October 17 – Leadville, 7 pm
October 18 – Steamboat, 7 pm
October 23 – Rifle, 7 pm
October 24 – Aspen, 10am
October 24 – Glenwood Springs, 7pm
October 25 – Vail Valley at Edwards, 7 pm

Call 800-621-8559 for more information about Common Reader programs at your local campus.