Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This One's A Winner!

Grant Overstake's first novel is in the YA category--geared toward teens. I spent two evenings reading Maggie Vaults Over the Moon and this long-time adult enjoyed the story immensely. Heartwarming and realistic, this book is a winner.

The author's background as a sports columnist and editor and participant in track and field events served him well in this newest venture. He must have heard that old write what you know because he gives his readers a good picture of the world of pole vaulting. How many kids have a burning desire to be a pole vaulter? Not nearly so many as want to be a pro baseball or football player, but after reading this debut novel a lot of kids might have the urge to look into track and field as a sport. Mr. Overstake weaves in a lot of information about pole vaulting that only adds intersest to an already good story.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, the author chose his home state as the setting for the book. He let Maggie Steele be the narrator of her story beginning in June after her junioir year in high school and finishing one year later as she graduates. In the space of that year, Maggie loses her beloved brother, Alex, in an auto accident. She takes her brother's place helping her dad harvest their wheat as they both continue to grieve for Alex. Maggie looks in vain for comfort at home and with her grandmother but finally finds some solace in the hayloft of the family's barn where she once spent happy times swinging on ropes with her brother.

With a little help from an unusual source, Maggie spends hours practicing with an old bamboo pole to learn the art of pole vaulting but never telling anyone until she goes out for the track and field team in the spring. There's a lot more here including a new boyfriend, her fear of what life holds for her after graduation, and how she slowly works through her grief. Maggie is a good role model for young people as she's determined, caring, and full of spirit and spunk. 

I'll say it again. Grant Overstake has written a winner. Maggie Vaults Over the Moon would be a perfect gift for a teen, even a quick but satisfying read for yourself. Readers of this book come away with a clear picture of what life is like in a rural setting and high school in this state known for wheat farming. They'll learn something about farm kids showing animals at the county and state fair, about the big responsibilities farm kids often have, and a lot about how track and field sport is conducted. Most of all, they'll learn that people slowly learn to live with a tragic event and that determination, dedication and desire to achieve will bring results. 

The author asked me if I'd read and review his book. I'm very pleased that he did so. It's a story I won't soon forget, even if it is meant for people a whole lot younger than I am. I plan to send the book to my two teen-age granddaughers in Dallas. I feel quite sure they'll like it as much as I did. 

Look for the book at Amazon. You can also visit the website to learn more and to see an announcement of Grant Overstake's upcoming appearance at the Kansas Book Festival in September 2013.

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