Abilene has spent most of her life riding the rails with her father, but in the summer of 1936 he sends her to his once-upon-a-time home town of Manifest, Kansas, telling her that he has to work a railroad job in Iowa alone and that he will return to pick her up at the end of the summer. Her father has always told her happy stories of the town of Manifest and Abilene is warmly welcomed by several of the townsfolk, but she immediately feels that they are holding something back from her. When she finds an old tin filled with mysterious keepsakes and letters under a floorboard, she sets out to discover the secrets of Manifest, and hopefully those of her own father as well.
This is a well-rounded historical novel abounding with great characters, stories and details, ultimately providing an epic view into numerous historical events from what is basically a story of a young girl in a depression-era Midwest town. The small town mysteries, adventures, and con jobs slightly echo The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, while the experiences and stories of individual characters take us far from Main Street to places as diverse as the Ellis Island immigration inspections, tent revivals, orphan trains, a KKK rally, the bottom of a coal mine, influenza quarantines, bootlegging operations, hobo camps, and the French front lines of the first World War. Moon over Manifest is an engaging read that underscores the power of story and will give young readers a taste of many real flavors of American life during the first third of the 20th Century. It was a nice choice for the 2011 Newbery.
Moon over Manifest
Written by Clare Vanderpool
Delacorte Books for Young Readers / Random House
Release Date: October 12, 2010