At just 19 years old, Uniontown resident and Laurel Highlands graduate Zach Mansberry has published his first novel, “To The Moon and Never Back.”

The book is a mix between romance, suspense and even drama and follows a writer named Jeremy and his beloved Estella. In the days leading up to his grand proposal, a celebration results in tragedy.

Jeremy has to overcome his own suffering to find happiness again. This book asks the question: How can you hope for forgiveness without forgiving yourself?

Mansberry said many aspects of the book came from influences in his life.

“For instance, every chapter title in the book was named after a song that was either an original song or at least recorded by Frank Sinatra,” he said. “The rest of the story came with the idea of mistakes. Intentional or not, I believe that everybody makes mistakes, and in this book, I wanted to challenge the willingness of a character to forgive a mistake.”

Mansberry started writing the book when he was 16. He had written a few pages but was not happy with how it turned out, so he decided to start over.

“After I turned 17, I found myself with a lot of free time to write because I had torn my ACL and meniscus in the first soccer game of my junior year,” he said. “A lot of the book was written in that recovery time, and then I finished it through sporadic periods up until just a few months ago.”

The teen’s writing got serious during his freshman year with shorter stories, but he always knew that his goal would be to write a full-length book.

“I actually always believed that I wrote as a healthy outlet of negative feelings,” said Mansberry. “That typically led to much darker stories, but I liked the way that a book could serve as a time capsule of whatever I was thinking or going through.

“This particular book was my attempt to accomplish the goal of a full-length book, and it came over a very stressful period through junior year,” he added. “It was a great outlet for that stress, and I think it was a lot more productive than shutting down.”

A second book is in the works as of now and focuses on a side character of “To the Moon and Never Back.”

The novel is self-published through Amazon and is currently available on that website in paperback or Kindle forms. The paperback of the book is $9.99 and the kindle version is $7.99.

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