Rosalyn Eves's Reviews > Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
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Jul 16, 11

Read in July, 2011

I thought this was a charming novel--I can understand why this won last year's Newberry Award. The writing was good, the characters were interesting and had real depth, and the story managed just the right balance of small-town wholesomeness and intrigue. Vanderpool has clearly done her research--she managed to convey a distinct flavor both for the 1936 where the story takes place, and the 1918 that shows up in the town's memories.

The story follows Abilene Tucker, a 12-year-old girl whose father sends her away for the summer (while he works on the railways) to Manifest, KS, the one place where he felt home. Abilene feels hurt by her father's action and struggles to understand his connection to Manifest, since everyone she asks returns vague answers. The discovery of a box of letters and mementoes sends her on a quest to find out about the past--including the identity of the spy known as "The Rattler". What she finds manages to surprise her--and the reader. I thought Vanderpool did an excellent job maintaining interest in both Abilene's story and the stories that she uncovers about the past--I was more moved by the concluding chapters than I had expected. They showed a real depth of insight without being preachy or moralizing. I thought this was a powerful story--one that kids and adults can enjoy.
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