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.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?!
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.
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