Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk



When Carolyn Astfalk unearths a newspaper clipping about a treasure hunter who struck gold, she turns it into a young adult romance novel. That took some doing, but as Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” A keen observer, Astfalk soaks her written pages with reality. Rightfully Ours, like her other romance novels appeals to the senses, especially those associated with food. You can smell the baking cookies and feel the bite of a January freeze. Her understanding of human emotions transports her readers into the minds of her characters as they experience blessings in the guise of disasters and conflicts. The reader cannot take for granted that a happy ending awaits in the last paragraph.

Rightfully Ours tells of buried gold, but more importantly, it reveals something far more precious in rural, North Central Pennsylvania.  Ron Mueller guards Rachel, his fourteen-year-old daughter with strict rules about dating. He quickly introduces potential boyfriends to his “three-barrel shotgun” to assure their compliance with his standards. Economic pressures persuade Ron to lease the southern portion of his property to a gas-mining/fracking operation and to rent an in-law cottage located near his house, unwittingly creating conflict, temptation, and a compelling story.

Ron’s tenant, Paul Porter—the brother of one of the fracking roughnecks—is sixteen. He and Rachel live next door to each other, and they ride the same school bus. Thrown together, Rachel’s awkwardness and Paul’s resentment keep them apart. Eventually, Paul’s teasing shows Rachel that he knows she exists. Slowly their relationship warms and endures tragedies, misunderstandings, discoveries, and disappointments. Despite Mr. and Mrs. Mueller’s efforts to discourage teen passions, Paul and Rachel find themselves unsupervised. They struggle to decide what is best for their short term and long term relationship. Readers can identify with Paul and Rachel as their love develops and feel their pain as storms tatter and threaten what they have and may soon lose.

As in the newspaper inspiration for Rightfully Ours Paul and Rachel discover gold. Unfortunately, the treasure lay on state land. They cannot lawfully own it. The man in the newspaper article requests a finder’s fee. That’s when everything becomes complicated, but not as wild as what happens in Rightfully Ours.

Carolyn Astfalk brings life to the pages of her books. She fills her teenage romance novel with tenderness, humor, and irony. As with Romeo and Juliette, parting with Rachel and Paul will be “sweet sorrow.”

I had the privilege to work in the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group with Carolyn Astfalk as Rightfully Ours came to be. She shared each new chapter and eventually sent me a review copy of the completed book. I’ve enjoyed all of Carolyn’s published and unpublished novels including Ornamental Graces and Stay with Me. I am grateful for her assistance with my own efforts.

11 thoughts on “Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk

  1. Pingback: Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk | don mulcare

    • Because they are so normal, Rachel and Paul appeal to their peer group. I’d think that once the young adult reader gets to know them, feel their emotions, and ride their roller-coaster that they may appreciate their struggle and their strategy for a life together, someday.

      One publisher asked prospective authors to submit marketing plans for their manuscripts. As a high school judge, I visit five high schools each year and contact representatives for seventeen high schools. The judges often gather in the school libraries where I can survey the YA literature collection and talk to the librarians. I could see where the HS librarians might accept a copy of Rightfully Ours or another YA novel and display it where students might find it. The ultimate goal is to have a book selected for summer reading. The boost in sales will put it on the bestseller lists and make an author’s career. It has happened. A trip to the local HS libraries and community libraries could make a huge difference

  2. Pingback: Rightfully Ours Blog Tour -

  3. This is a libraries on a stick. It’s about the size of a mailbox or a large birdhouse, Local versions offer books to borrow or exchange. They can get a book into circulation with little fuss.

  4. Pingback: Finding Patience, by Virginia Lieto and Carole Hahn Panzner | The Catholic Writers Guild

  5. Pingback: Finding Patience, by Virginia Lieto and Carole Hahn Panzner | don mulcare

  6. Pingback: Catholic Teen Books | The Catholic Writers Guild

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s