Sanchez writes ‘Freaking Green’


How might a family react to a $5 million inheritance that hinges on their ability to reduce their carbon footprint? That’s the story line of Los Lunas author Laura Sanchez’s first novel, “Freaking Green.”

How might a family react to a $5 million inheritance that hinges on their ability to reduce their carbon footprint? That’s the story line of Los Lunas author Laura Sanchez’s first novel, “Freaking Green.”

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Local author Laura Sanchez will be at the Los Lunas Hastings from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, signing and discussing her first novel, “Freaking Green,” a humorous story about a family who inherits $5 million if they can reduce their carbon footprint by 80 percent.

Sanchez was disappointed by the lack of down-to-earth language when national environmental organizations talked about reducing our carbon footprint, so she set out to explore what it means for a family to do this.

“I think the whole environmental movement has gotten so concentrated in relatively well-off, primarily well-educated, Anglo people,” Sanchez said. “It has become so divorced from someone who is trying to make a living farming a few acres or working in a laundromat or working in a fast-food restaurant — it has lost its relevance in a lot of ways to how people actually live.”

Through “Freaking Green,” Sanchez makes the science easy to understand, while giving voice to divergent perspectives on environmental issues.

The book has been called a young adult crossover because the main character, Jasmine Hayward, is a teenager. But adults might find it interesting for other reasons.

Set in Albuquerque, Norm and Amy Hayward and their children, Jasmine, her older sister, Morgan, and younger twin brothers, Brett and Stirling, begin a journey like none they have ever experienced.

The Haywards have to reduce their electricity and gasoline use by 80 percent within a year to receive $5 million from their recently deceased aunt, Olivia Hayward Morgan, from Illinois.

Their first assignment is to bury her without increasing their carbon emissions. They start by finding a green-burial funeral home that replaces the traditional metal or wooden casket with a cardboard box.

Norm Hayward is a developer whose business is in trouble from the recession, and the money could help him save his business. Amy, however, believes the venture will ruin her catering business.

Jasmine sees the money as a way for her to attend a prestigious acting school. Her dream is to be an actress, but her aunt’s environmental mandates mean she must curb her style.

The science-minded twin, Stirling, works with the energy auditing company to map out the family’s energy use, and he offers suggestions for how they can cut it.

Each member of the Hayward family reacts differently to his or her energy-reduction journey.

“They try to maintain what they can with the things they do, but they find out they have to do things differently,” said Sanchez.

“I didn’t want to make them happy eco-warriors who wanted to do this. I wanted them to be fighting — there’s no story without conflict, so there’s conflict between Jasmine and her sister, Jasmine and her friends, her dad, her little brothers.”

From Aunt Olivia’s green burial to unplugging electronics not in use to cutting driving miles are just some of the ways the Haywards cut their carbon emissions.

“I’ve been obsessed with this stuff for decades,” Sanchez said. “But I have a hard time finishing a long book on environmental issues.”

Sanchez and her husband, Alex, design grid-positive homes that produce more energy than they consume. They authored two books, including “Adobe Houses for Today.”

She will be discussing “Freaking Green,” and signing the book at Hastings in Los Lunas from 3 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, and at Booksworks in Albuquerque at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Sanchez will sign books from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Los Lunas Transportation during the Valencia County Historical Society’s annual Authors Day.

Freaking Green is available at and Hastings in Los Lunas.

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