Newbery Book Review

Moon Over Manifest

“…No words.” So said Chandler while trying to write his wedding vows to Monica in season 7 of Friends, and so say I after finishing this book. It’s that good.

I finished a chunk of it in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I could get all sappy about how it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think…but I’m not going to do that. (You see how I did that? By saying i wasn’t going to do something i actually did the something I said I wouldn’t do.)

On a serious note, the story was beautifully crafted, and I have to say that I agree with all those Newbery judges who picked this book as the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature.

Brief summary of Moon Over Manifest: Abilene Tucker is a 12-year-old girl who has lived most of her life on the railroad tracks with her dad, Gideon, until one summer when he has a job that Abilene can’t join him on.  Instead, she is sent to spend the summer in his hometown of Manifest, Kansas. During her summer ‘vacation’ she finds out about the town’s past from an old Hungarian diviner, and she makes discoveries about herself and her relationship with her dad in the process.  (That description is really brief.  In fact, if you’re not satisfied with it try this one.)

What I loved most about this book were the character’s that Vanderpool created as well as the setting that she placed them in.  Manifest is a small town in the Midwest, and when Abilene makes her entrance you can see the dust and tiredness of it.  But when Miss Sadie, the medium, tells stories about Manifest in 1918 the town loses some of its fragility, both in character and setting, and is replaced with a diverse community that is full of hope and optimism despite difficult circumstances.

I think I mentioned in a previous post how much I loved the book Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  Part of what was so captivating in that book was the duality of stories – one in the present and one in the past.  Claire Vanderpool does the same kind of storytelling in Moon Over Manifest. One story takes place in 1936 and the other in 1918, but you are equally invested in both, especially as you start to see how they relate to one another.

It really is such a beautiful story, and I encourage you to either place your hold at the library, buy it, or borrow my copy. :)

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