Life on a farm is quite different from that in the city. Maggie Steele is a young teenage girl whose ties to her family are more than just refreshing. Working along side of brother and father during harvesting season and helping with chores was a team effort and never considered work.
But, one moment in time would forever change her life and one emergency call the dynamics of her family. What happens when your brother the person who centers you and cares about you as your best friend is suddenly taken away from you in a car accident? What happens when your boyfriend is taken along with him? Maggie Steele would forever remember when the Reverend delivered the message to her and her mother that Alex was no longer with them and her life was going to change. Emptiness, despair, denial and loneliness and a hollow space that can never really be filled are just part of what she and her family go through. A small town in Kansas, Grain Valley, with friends and neighbors that provide some support and guidance Maggie finds herself lost within herself and her own thoughts never wanting to let the memory or her brother’s presence go.
Life changes for Maggie and her parents but one thing is constant is the love and guidance of her grandmother as he anger gets the better of her at times, the funeral is difficult and the harsh realties begin to set in. But, Maggie has an inner strength that comes through from the start and although she finds it difficult at times to express her true feelings and often becomes angry, she is now faced with helping her father harvesting the grain, learning to drive the big truck and proving to herself that she can handle just about anything given the chance. There is so much more to this story as we learn more about Maggie, her desires and the turmoil within herself to decide where she wants life to take her after the storm finally ends.
Author Grant Overtake takes us inside the world of farming, sheep contests and much more. Research into these fields had to be extensive as the reader feels that he/she is going along with Maggie every step of the way on her first harvest, winning the contest with her Sheep named Lincoln and then being nominated for Homecoming Queen. When Maggie learns she has been nominated her encounter with the teacher in charge is quite unique. As the teacher has no idea about her past, why she does not want to run and the way she is convinced to continue is priceless. Families find and deal with losses on different levels and in different ways. Losing my best friend, my sister last year allowed me to truly understand how Maggie felt and why she became angry so often. That’s an emotion I can identify with and wanting to remember her brother and keep his presence with her at all times is what drives her each day.
Then, something happens to change everything as she finds herself in the barn one night and hears a voice that will send her in a direction she would embrace and never forget. Could it be that she really hears the voice of her brother? Could he really guide her to becoming all that she could be? But, first let me share with you the amazing night she had when she won Homecoming Queen and the connection she made with a wonderful young man named Troy. But, hearing Alex’s voice, connecting with him and learning more about what and where he is started on a direction that would forever change her life, make her stronger as a person and help her to move ahead.
Senior year is supposed to be special yet to Maggie at times it was just like everything else. Her classes all seemed to blend together and at times she appeared distracted. Meeting Troy was a positive and going out with him definitely a great move. But, in the barn her brother maybe he left it for her in some way but showed her that maybe learning to pole-vault would help her to fly over that magical moon and find her own special place in the world and identity. Sports is a great way to release energy, compete, get in shape and much more. As she trains in the barn the reader becomes involved as the vaults increase in height and she becomes more adept. Sports are a great releaser and the book follows from the middle until the end her amazing transformation. With Alex as her mentor and guide and many think that this detracts from the story it does not. Sometimes we need a little magic, miracle and faith in order to bring the message home.
Some people feel that they see or hear the person that is deceased. Others think they are losing their minds. But, Maggie sees and hears Alex’s voice, is encouragement to become the best pole-vaulter and the author includes the materials used, how to use them and the extensive training needed. It is quite accurate and interesting. Is Maggie losing her mind or is she trying to sue the voices and visions of her brother to keep him with her, to hear his words of encouragement and always have him as a part of her life? As Maggie grows within herself and changes we see a young teen turn into a successful young woman. Imagine being the only female pole -vaulter on Grain Valley High’s track team? Just how will she be received and what will the final outcome be? Both of her parents were reacting to Alex’s death in their own way. Her mother often sits in his room having her own private conversations with him as her father buries himself more in his work. The scene that was quite compelling was when the entire football team and the coaches came to help her family complete their harvesting. The support of this small town is refreshing and Maggie is quite invigorating.
Life brings along with it many challenges as Maggie learns. Pole-vaulting and track seem to be her outlet to not only expend her energies but to try and center herself for the future. But, like many students and young people that have had great losses they become distracted and often wonder what’s next. School and senior finals come up out of nowhere you might say, pole-vaulting competitions and one sad note that might cause her to have to give it all up. With budgets low and funds not always there what will it take to get her a new pole when her antique bamboo one is broken. Pole-vaulting requires training, skill and confidence. It requires that every time out you know where your mark is, how high you are supposed to go and you are able to deal with the strong shifts in wind and much more. The author met with Earl Bell the all time pole-vaults champion and his input and information was invaluable when writing this book. But, competitions mean that you are going to come up against some really good athletes. So, when Maggie meets Amanda who is not only gorgeous but also dressed to perfection for each competition what secret does she hold that alerts the reader that not everything is what it seems?
Risks, fear, heart beating fast and determined to succeed with her brother’s voice and spirit behind her will she succeed in making herself proud and winning the gold? Hearing Alex’s voice and the support of her boyfriend Troy kept her going. But, the one person that never let her down and told her that she would know when she was there. So, Maggie don’t stop doing what you are doing. Keep doing your own personal best and you never know what will happen. A special dream brings her family together and a special goal to Vault over the Moon her goal! Will she succeed and what happens at the final competition you will have to sit in the stands with her family and friends to find out for yourself? Young people at times tend to think that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. Life does not or should not work that way.
This is a great book to teach young adults and teens responsibility, respect, what the real meaning of hard work is and for coaches of any team to help inspire young athletes to reach for the gold. After losing my sister last year it was and still is hard to deal with the loss. Sometimes we all hope to connect with someone that we miss and this book really brings the message home that those that are not here with us physically will are in spirit. This is a wonderful book filled with information about a great sport and many other sports that young adults might want to learn more about. It also holds up the value, and as an educator this really hit home, the value and importance of an education.
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon: Pick a goal and do your best to attain it. Does Maggie reach the heights she wants to vault as she puts it over the moon? Will her life remain in the farm or will she realize that she is still some might say a masterpiece in the works? Read this outstanding novel that I think both adults and young adults will learn from as Maggie, Amanda, Troy, Scott and a wonderful man named Mr. Bright present to the reader some invaluable lessons in life along with our outstanding author.