Georgia Rules

Georgia Rules is A 2018 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year with Outstanding Merit. It is the story of a young girl named Magnolia Grace who grew up in Atlanta, GA, but suddenly finds herself far from everything she knew before, living in a tiny Vermont town on the maple farm left to her by her recently deceased father, Johnny Austin. When Maggie meets the Parker family  ~  two moms plus six kids who are loud and boisterous and ask any question that comes to their minds  ~  Maggie finally learns about the gentle artist who was her father, and begins to question why Mama kept her away from him for so long. Along her journey, Maggie discovers not only the secrets that kept them apart, but she learns where she truly belongs and how families are like patchwork quilts, made all the more beautiful by the different shapes and colors. When Maggie makes a decision about her future, Mama opposes until one snowy Christmas Eve when a strange man arrives who holds the key to everyone’s hearts.

If you enjoyed One for the Murphy’s and The Penderwicks, you’ll love Georgia Rules!

Cover Design by Dawn Cooper

ISBN: 9780062374578
ISBN 10: 0062374575
Imprint: HarperCollins

“This book soars as it details the fractious and frustrating relationship between Maggie and her mother, and the way it makes Vermont, and its beauty throughout the seasons, a character of its own…there is also determination and revelation, giving this more heft than usual for a middle-grade novel.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A tender coming-of-age story about forgiveness and growing up.” —School Library Journal

“After the sudden breakup of her mom and stepfather, eleven-year-old Maggie’s difficult mother makes a sudden executive decision to move with her daughter from their lavish Southern life in Atlanta, GA, to a small tourist town in Vermont. There, Maggie is thrust into an entirely new way of being, leaving the clean and polite “Georgia rules” in the past and being forced to adjust to the honest and messy truths that she encounters in Vermont. While the story’s focus is local and familial, it explores broader notions of American conservatism and liberalism and regional identity, exploring themes such as gay marriage (Maggie’s close family friends are a lesbian couple with kids) and war  veterans’ PTSD (which it turns out Maggie’s late father suffered from). As a result, it invites readers to grapple with the nuances of rule bending, breaking, and even banishing. Steveson takes time to develop and round out each of her characters and their histories, resulting in a singular, intricately woven story of people’s complicated, rule-surpassing existences. This book gives young readers a useful perspective on the negotiation of power in their own lives, and it sheds a soft light on the imperfections of adults, creating space for honest and open dialogue.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A 12-year-old’s attempt to learn about her recently deceased father while at odds with her conservative mother provides the framework for Steveson’s well-crafted novel. Magnolia Grace Austin, aka Maggie, inherits a farm from her late father, whom she never really knew. In order to sell the farm, Maggie and her mother must live there for one year to satisfy the terms of the will, so the summer before seventh grade, Maggie and Mama move from Atlanta to Vermont. Small-town life proves to be a big adjustment for both, and Steveson (Swing Sideways) weaves divorce, same-sex relationships, adoption, disability, PTSD, and more into the story, forcing Maggie and Mama to rethink certain attitudes while also propelling the narrative. Maggie’s developing friendships with the sprawling Parker family—made up of two mothers and biological, adopted, and foster children-become a catalyst for change in their lives. The strained relationship between Maggie and Mama is especially poignant as they try to find their way in uncharted territory. It’s an inspiring story of opening eyes and expanding perceptions.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book is a better advertisement for Vermont than is Bernie Sanders. . .” —A Goodreads reviewer