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“Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool features a plucky heroine, Abeline Tucker, who feels abandoned when her father puts her on a train bound for Manifest, Kansas in the care of an old family friend--now the town bootlegger and minister--so he can work on the rails for one summer. On a journey of self discovery, she wants to know the secrets held by a small box of items that have been mysteriously left for her. As she unravels the clues, she also discovers many things about her father's relationships to the colorful town and characters of Manifest. Vanderpool's many red herrings lure the reader upstream as she cleverly sets up a surprising con--just like the cunning characters in her book do to each other. Moving back and forth between 1918 and 1936, Vanderpool weaves a strong and vibrant narrative, connecting the past and present through her delightful characters who speak loudly and uniquely. A celebration of heritage, story, and the communities that bind together to form one big family, Moon over Manifest is a terrific debut by a writer to watch.”
— Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
Starred review, BOOKLIST, October 15, 2010:
After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of
coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and welldeveloped characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.”
Starred review, KIRKUS REVIEWS, September 15, 2010:
“Readers will cherish every word up to the heartbreaking yet hopeful
and deeply gratifying ending.”
Starred review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, September 27, 2010:
"Replete with historical details and surprises, Vanderpool's debut delights,
while giving insight into family and community.”
Review, THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS, November 2010:
"Ingeniously plotted and gracefully told."