Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town

Book Cover


19th Century,Contemporary

Leslie Tall Manning

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An out-of-control sixteen-year-old finds her life turned upside down when she and her family become the stars of a reality show set in 1861 in the North Carolina Backcountry. But can a young girl’s wishful heart surrender to a time and place she believes she can never call home?


Young Adult,Drama,Family,Funny,Historical Fiction

Short Summary

Sixteen-year-old Brooke Decker stumbles onto the porch drunk after partying with boys she doesn't know. Her life has grown out of control since her mother's death eighteen months earlier. This is not the first time Brooke has acted out, but it just may be her last.

Brooke says goodbye to the 1860's life she has lived for four months, and finds that her mother has been a part of her all this time. With her father receiving a job offer in Europe, Brooke sees their new life ahead as a wonderful adventure, one she will grab with a renewed spirit.


Eastern North Carolina; Western North Carolina

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Twist

Mature Audience Themes

Language/Profanity,Substance Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: Brooke Decker

Age: sixteen

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Complex,Sarcastic,Engaging,Insecure,Honorable,Outspoken,Funny

Additional Character Details

Name: Prudence Miller

Age: sixteen

Gender: Female

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Greedy,Narcisstic,Funny,Manipulative

Additional Character Details

Name: Wendell Murphy

Age: seventeen

Gender: Male

Role: tempter

Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Engaging,Heartthrob,Masculine,Sexy,Romantic,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Tim Decker

Age: 45

Gender: Male

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Decisive,Desperate,Empathetic,Educated,Skillful,Strong Moral Code

Development Pitch

It has been a long and difficult year for the Decker family, especially for sixteen-year-old Brooke. Her grades have plummeted. She deliberately breaks curfew. She makes out with boys she hardly knows. And now her father has totally lost it. When Tim Decker signs up his family of three to be contestants on a Hollywood reality show, Brooke’s life turns upside down. The place: The North Carolina backcountry. The year: 1861. Brooke is forced to trade in her Victoria’s Secret bra for a rib-cracking corset, her comfy jeans for an ugly farm dress, and her private bathroom for an outhouse. Television cameras will follow her every move as she lives the grueling life of a mid-nineteenth-century farm girl: milking a cow, churning butter, and riding in a horse-drawn wagon along a rutted road to spend pennies in town. This will be Brooke’s life for four awful months. Unless, of course, she breaks the rules and gets kicked off the show… Other families are scattered throughout Sweet Sugar Gap. The snotty Prudence Miller soon becomes Brooke’s rival. Wendell Murphy, who works at the mercantile, is instantly smitten with Brooke—but also makes her suspicious. Does the only cute boy in town really like her, or is he merely showing off for the cameras? Brooke Decker just may have to find a way to make it in the backcountry, leaving behind the modern frills she can’t live without. But can a young girl’s wishful heart surrender to a time and place she believes she can never call home?

About The Author

Leslie Tall Manning is an author of Adult and Young Adult novels. She started her writing career at Cal State Long Beach in the late nineties, when, as a theatre major, she took a playwriting class and a novel-writing workshop. Since then she has seen her work performed in the college arena as well as five of her books published. In 2002, Leslie left Southern California for the sleepy South and considers North Carolina her home. Today, she is an award-winning novelist. Her Adult novel, Gaga, received a Self-e Library Journal Selection, and her YA novel, Upside Down in a Laura Ingall’s Town, received the Sarton Women’s Literary Award and the North Carolina Author Project Award. When Leslie’s not hanging out with the characters in her head or conducting research for writing projects, she speaks at libraries, schools, and book clubs. She is proudly represented by Uwe Stender at the TriadaUS Literary Agency.

Target Audiences

Age: 13-17,55+,18-34,35-54

Target Gender: Female Leaning

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Leslie Tall Manning

Year Published: 2016

Hard Copy Available