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.I loved this one. I did. It's historical fiction set in Manifest, Kansas in 1918 and 1936. It stars Abilene Tucker, a girl who has lived without her mother since she was about two, a girl who is now living without her father. It is her father who has sent her to Manifest. He's placed her in the care of Pastor 'Shady' Howard.
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.
What Abilene discovers is that Manifest is nothing like the Manifest from her father's stories. That doesn't exactly mean it's completely void of interesting characters. (Some are quite mysterious!) But it's not quite what she was expecting either. And Abilene has to decide for herself that it's worth the effort of making friends. You see, Abilene is used to living life on the go. And making friends is risky. Because the more friends you have, the more you come to love a place, the harder it is to say goodbye, to move on to the next place, and the next.
Moon Over Manifest is a great coming-of-age story. It's beautifully written. I loved the richness of it--the descriptions, the details, the characters, the unfolding story. I loved just about everything!
*Reviewed from an Advanced Reading Copy
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews