Suddenly Rural Girl

Suddenly Rural Girl is the debut YA novel of Dann and Kennedy Hurlbert. After the writing and self-editing processed, we were blessed to find editors, sensitivity, and beta readers to add some polish. Below is the synopsis and our concept book cover (which a literary agent and publisher may elect to change). We’ve now begun that challenging step of finding the right Literary Agent, and we look forward to finding and collaborating with him or her to get this novel onto some bookshelves! Contact Dann if you have questions on SRG, and watch the blog for exciting updates!

Concept Front Book Cover featuring teenage girl looking into camera.
Concept Front Book Cover featuring teenage girl looking into camera.

After her dad is tragically killed and her mom moves her to northern Minnesota, Dakota Moore discovers that an outcast classmate may be a reclusive miracle worker. She thinks she found him too late. The truth is, she met him just in time. 

Now, tucked into a secluded A-frame near a beaver-infested creek with her strong Sioux mom and her lisping little brother, Dak faces a new school and a trio of mean girls. Seemingly alone, she buries herself in a design app and self pity until an old blind man, his curly-haired horse named Eyeballs, a quirky dragon-doodling classmate, and a strawberry blonde with delicious sun-kissed freckles give her four reasons to keep on living. Then she decides to do more than just survive; Dak intends to thrive. When tragedy strikes again, she confronts the intriguing and repulsive miracle worker, but he doesn’t help their mutual friend. Learning why will change her life.


Suddenly Rural Girl is a friend and faith-finding journey, featuring a strong, female, multiracial protagonist and is loaded with laugh-out-loud characters and gorgeous northern Minnesota beauty.  The magnificent landscapes haunt like William Kent Kreuger’s Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, and the quick-witted dialogue is reminiscent of Jenny B. Jones’ There You’ll Find Me and In Between books.  The combination makes it an excellent YA read with cross-over into Contemporary Christian audiences.  The novel also includes plot-related questions for classrooms and theme based discussion prompts for book groups.

Concept Back Book Cover featuring horse and photo of the authors.

Sample Plot and Discussion Questions

Suddenly Rural Girl includes a study guide with plot driven questions for classroom use and discussion questions for small groups and book clubs. Themes include Below are some of the questions from


  • What are five things we’ve learned about our protagonist, Dakota, in chapter 1?
  • Compare and contrast Dakota’s neighborhood in Grand Rapids with her new neighborhood in rural Minnesota.
  • Who or what is Hunter, and what role does he play in the lives of these characters?
  • Describe Mr. Redrickson.  What are some of his good qualities, and what do we learn about him that might make Dakota be wary about him?
  • Who or what is Eyeballs, and what role does he play in this chapter?


  • Sometimes help comes from unlikely places.  When have you felt stuck or trapped or helpless, and who helped you get through it?
  • Objects can have sentimental meanings to us.  What was something sentimental to Dakota in this chapter?  What object or objects have some special meaning to you & why?


  • Whether your neighborhood is in a rural or urban area, you can find evidence of the modern natural world. What creatures have left evidence of their existence–and what does it tell you about their bodies or their lives?
  • Evidence of life prior to human beings exists in every part of the world.  In your part of the world, what kinds of prehistoric creatures roamed the earth? How do you know?

About the Authors

Dann has BSED in English and Theater Education from the University of South Dakota, an MFA in Digital Cinema from California’s National University, and has spent many years as an educator and professional actor and director. He currently serve as a Media & Design Specialist at Minnesota’s Carleton College. He’s a sucker for the Great Outdoors, Caribou Coffee, and his beautiful wife, and three impressive kids.

Kennedy is a cheerful and creative teenager who inspired much of the SRG story and corrected all her dad’s teen lingo. She enjoys being with friends, whipping up sweet and tasty desserts, and spending time at the lake. Any lake. She loves lakes.  Especially the Boundary Waters. But any lake will do. She also likes sports and cuddling with the family Golden Retrievers. 

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