A former rural newspaper editor has created a teen novel that’s harvesting praise from readers of all ages for its realistic view of life on a family farm.
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is a perfect gift idea for anyone with rural roots. It’s vivid and realistic scenes bring readers back home.
Years spent as a journalist embedded in Kansas wheat country helped Grant Overstake create a vivid setting for the story, in which a high school senior named Maggie Steele struggles to overcome a family tragedy and is confronted by a decision faced by many rural teens: Stay home and save the family farm or pursue the life of her dreams?
Overstake, the former editor of the small-town Hillsboro (Kansas) Star-Journal, places the story near the fictional town of Grain Valley, Kan., which, in real life, could be anyplace where the grain elevator is the busiest place in town, especially at harvest time.
The novel, appropriate for 4th graders to adults, has earned several five-star reviews from readers on Amazon.com, including one that reads, “Getting to know Maggie Steele, her family, and the whole warm and caring community of Grain Valley was a pure delight…”
Kansas native John Rinkenbaugh spent his adult life looking for and producing great stories as a television producer. In his excellent review of the novel, he has high praise for the one story that transported him back to his childhood on the farm.
A two-time winner of the Kansas Farm Bureau’s Golden Wheat Award for excellence in agriculture writing, Overstake vividly captures the wheat harvest, including a nostalgic scene in which the Steele family takes time to savor a traditional harvest field dinner. The scene was featured in the blog, But What Are They Eating? by Shelley Workinger.
Most meaningful to the author, however, are the positive reviews from readers with roots in rural Kansas, who see themselves and their cherished lifestyles reflected in the characters portrayed in the pages of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon.
“I’ve heard from many people from farms and small towns like Grain Valley,” Overstake said. “One of them is a 13 year-old girl named Mackenzie who lives on a farm near Beloit, Kansas. She’s a real-life Maggie Steele who drives a grain wagon, shows sheep at the county fair, and pole-vaults! She wrote to tell me that she loves the story so much that she keeps reading it over and over again.”
While the book was written at the middle school and high school level, the novel’s uplifting message is reaching older readers as well.
“A man in his late seventies told me that the story took him back to the farm where he’d grown up as a boy,” Overstake said. “He said that the setting touched him so deeply and seemed so real that he cried when he finished reading it, because he didn’t want the story to end.”
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is available in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com.