In this debut young adult novel, a farm girl rebounds after a family tragedy, soaring to new heights as a pole-vaulter.
Teenager Maggie Steele has just lost her brother Alex in a tragic car accident. He was a beloved son and brother and also an all-star high school athlete in a small Kansas town where high school sports matter. Maggie is reminded each day of her brother, and she struggles to cope with life on the farm without him. She’s the only child left to take over the family business, and she has a sinking feeling she’ll be trapped there forever. As she begins her senior year, she still suffers from grief and anxiety about what to do with the rest of her life. When it appears that she’ll never be able to get over these difficulties, she begins talking to her deceased brother; to her surprise, his voice answers her. Alex’s voice guides her to take up pole vaulting, and he coaches her on how to be the very best at it. Through his coaching, Maggie finds her purpose. Overstake’s novel exudes sweetness; in some ways, it feels as if it takes place in another era, as it lacks the dark edge seen in other popular YA stories. Former sportswriter Overstake’s crisp style also gives the pole-vaulting scenes authenticity and tension. The story will most likely engage younger teenage girls, but its themes will resonate with anyone who has suffered profound loss.
A fine YA novel about perseverance in sports and in life.