John's Reviews > Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: american-history, award-winner, coming-of-age, contemporary-fiction, family, junior-fiction, historical-fiction, newberry
Read from July 07 to August 13, 2011

Abilene Tucker walks into Manifest, KS, having jumped from the train on the outskirts of town. She passes a house with "the path to perdition" and finds a place to stay with the local preacher and tavern owner. She just needs to stay here for a summer, surrounding by strangers, until her father comes back for her in the fall. If he comes back, she tries to not think to herself. While here, she will discover the secrets of Manifest's past and possibly of her own.

This is a small story, but in the best sense. Small stories draw their universalism from the tiny details of imagined lives. As Abilene makes her way through her summer, and learns the history of two boys in the past, the story is no longer just about this girl and this town. Its themes instead are the American dream, guilt and redemption, the power of love, the creation of community, and the fleeting nature of happiness and life. All that we do can be laid low, it is true, but this book argues that we should do all the same. A darn fine novel.

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