Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rereading Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest. Clare Vanderpool. 2010. October 2010. Random House. 368 pages.
The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I knew only from stories. The one just outside of town with big blue letters: MANIFEST: A TOWN WITH A RICH PAST AND A BRIGHT FUTURE. I thought about my daddy, Gideon Tucker. He does his best talking in stories, but in recent weeks, those had become few and far between. So on the occasion when he'd say to me, "Abilene, did I ever tell you 'bout the time...?" I'd get all quiet and listen real hard. Mostly he'd tell stories about Manifest, the town where he'd lived once upon a time.
His words drew pictures of brightly painted storefronts and bustling townsfolk. Hearing Gideon tell about it was like sucking on butterscotch. Smooth and sweet. And when he'd go back to not saying much, I'd try recalling what it tasted like. Maybe that was how I found comfort just then, even with him being so far away. By remembering the flavor of his words.
This was my third time to read Clare Vanderpool's historical novel, Moon Over Manifest. (I read it twice in 2010.) It is one of those books--in my opinion--that reads just as good, if not better, upon rereading. I never get tired of reading great books, of books that are among 'my favorite and best.' How could I ever know which books were truly my favorites unless I reread them again and again?! How could one reading of a great book ever, ever, ever be enough?!

Moon Over Manifest is a coming-of-age novel that is a historical mystery. The heroine, Abilene, is a young girl who's just arrived--in her own way, in her own style--in the town of Manifest. She's heard a few stories from her father--this is the town where he spent some of his childhood; but she knows she's just got a fraction of the stories. For there are many, many things she doesn't know about her father--past or present. Like, she doesn't really understand why her father is sending her away now. Yes, it's the depression. Yes, times are hard. Yes, life on the road is tough and unpredictable. But isn't being together worth it? She has certainly always thought so...

So the novel has a framework to it. There is the modern-day story with Abilene and her brand-new friends as they set about discovering clues to the past--letters, newspaper articles, special objects, etc. And the flash-back story that stars Jinx and Ned--two young men who are the best of friends. This is the story set during the first world war. This is the story that sees one of the young men going off to war and never coming back home. This is the story that shows the devastation of the 'Spanish' influenza. And that's just the beginning.

I loved so many things about Moon Over Manifest. The characterization. The storytelling. The writing. I definitely recommend this one...

Read Moon Over Manifest
  • If you're a fan of historical fiction
  • If you're looking for a book set in the 1930s
  • If you're looking for a book set during World War I
  • If you like storytelling
  • If you like historical mysteries
  • If you like coming-of-age stories

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Debi 11:36 AM  

"How could one reading of a great book ever, ever, ever be enough?!" <---Love this so much!

Kailana 10:12 PM  

I really want to read this but my library doesn't have it!

Anna 5:45 PM  

We'll be featuring your review on War Through the Generations on June 6. I apologize for missing this one earlier!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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