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Book Review: Moon over Manifest

Title: Moon Over Manifest

Author: Clare Vanderpool

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What's it about?

Abilene Tucker is about to embark on an adventure unlike any her nomadic eyes have ever seen when her dad, Gideon Tucker, decides to send him back to the only town he'd ever thought of as home, filled with the only people who had ever treated him like family since he lost his biological family. While Abilene is pretty sure that her stay in Manifest is only short term, as Gideon will be back by the end of the summer after finishing the rail road job in Des Monies, Iowa, right? As much as Abilene doesn't want to admit it, she's not so sure.

But as time creeps on, Abilene finds something of a kindred spirit in Pastor Shady Howard, who she is to stay with per her father's directions, a couple local girls and a mysterious yet intriguing old diviner and soon, she finds herself sucked up in not just one, but two mysteries.

Abilene takes on the first case after finding a tin of keepsakes and letters under the floor board of her new bedroom, letters that tell pieces of a tale complete with a spy in Manifest. Now, Abilene is compelled find the missing pieces in the tale that promises nothing less then excitement. But her summer is destined, it seems, to be slightly more complicated then that as she finds herself working for Ms. Sadie, the town's diviner who is overflowing with stories of times past, wisdom that may prove to be more valuable then even Abilene realizes as relationships of a life time are cultivated. Soon one finds themselves asking, is it really the tale of the spy Abilene is desperately in search of, or is the the tale of the Tuckers? With the help of her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, Ms. Sadie, Shady and even the journalist who wrote the auxiliary news her father left her with, Hattie Mae, Abilene just may find more answers then she ever imagined.


Favorite characters: While I really liked Abilene, a girl who was witty, funny and unique in all of the right ways just like her name, my favorite characters were Shady and Ms. Sadie. My reasons for liking them are pretty similar and some what simple. They're quirky and eccentric in their own rights, two qualities I tend to really enjoy in characters. They had both lived their lives, often in less desirable situations then hoped for but they always came out the other end capable of loving, persevering and finding something good in life. They not only offered insight and wisdom, but a freedom to be who you are and a line or two to make you chuckle.

Least favorite characters: This one is pretty easy to answer. Devlin and his minions are my least favorite character, which I pretty much suspected from the first time we meet him, in 1918, attending a Klan meeting. But it went further then that. Devlin ran the mine, which offered the primary source of work for the families in Manifest in 1918, as Ms. Sadie tells it, yet he mistreats and abuses those that work for him, sure to always keep them under his thumb and strung up on strings he controlled by taking power over their very survival at times. Yes, he could have been worse and the Klan could have been more active then they were, I was actually surprised that they didn't do more violent actions during the course of this book, but I just couldn't find a quality that could redeem him.

Favorite part: I don't know that I have a favorite part per say. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book and thought it was really well organized, but I think I'd have to say when Ms. Sadie tells tales of 1918, of the town and those in it including Jinx. While I enjoyed Abilene's story line, I think I favored the story line of Jinx more (in fact, he is my third favorite, just a hair below Shady and Ms. Sadie). Maybe it's because Jinx and Ned were a little older then Abilene, and the story line very much centered around those two young men in 1918. Maybe it's because of the parts of the story line that kind of remind me of T.V shows that I like such as White Collar and Leverage. Or, maybe it's none of those things.

Least Favorite Part: Honestly, I don't think I have a part I really didn't like. I found myself entertained even by the few slow moving bits of the book, and the pieces that didn't readily seem to fit in (at least at first) like the scene where Abilene and the girls sneak into the school to search for evidence of The Rattler (they spy they were oh so devoted to catch).

Favorite Quotes: I found quite a few lines that struck me as important in this book. More then I have yet, so I had to pick just some of them. I chose three to share with you.

-"They think they hide their hate behind a mask," she said, her accent thick, "but it is there for all to see." (pg. 86)These words were said by Ms. Sadie. When I read these words, I hears a reminder that our feelings, our preferences come out in ways we don't even realize. It's in a look, a touch or a tone of voice. We can't hide all that we are, but we can change it. If we want to be a better of ourselves, we can't just fake it, we have to be it, too.

The next two revelations are had by Abilene as she struggles to put the pieces of her new found lessons together and find meaning in all that she had experienced that summer up until that point. They show an innocence in her understanding of people as she starts to bloom into a young lady to find her own paths. It's a time in which she's realizing the importance of having people in her life and reminds of the very same things.

- "I thought I knew a thing or two about people. Even had my list of universals. But I wondered. Maybe the world wasn't made of universals that could be summed up in neat little packages. Maybe there were just people. People who were tired and hurt and lonely and kind in their own way and their own right." (pg. 144)

-If there is such a thing as a universal-and I wasn't ready to throw all of mine out the window- it's that there is power in a story. And if someone pays you such a kindness as to make up a tale so you'll enjoy a gingersnap you go along with that story and enjoy every last bite." (pg. 144)

Other thoughts:

When I picked up this book, I didn't expect to find a tale reminiscent of Holes. No, the two are not the same, but Moon over Manifest reminded me of Holes. However, I found Moon over Manifest to be a simpler story that proved to be easier to follow. Instead of four separate story lines, Moon over Manifest only carries two main story lines, with more overlapping characters at the center of both time lines. I think part of the ease of time jumping between 1936 and 1918 comes with the organization offered by Ms. Vanderpool. At the beginning of a book, you are provided with a list and brief description of each character in both time lines, offering an easy reference (especially helpful for keeping the citizens who had immigrated straight in 1918) while each chapter was labeled with a time and date to give a heads up before you even begin the chapter. Organization was even further enhanced by an obvious pattern followed throughout most of the book. Chapter from 1918, auxiliary article written by Hattie Mae, fun add found with the article in the paper, new chapter. This organization offered a clear map while time traveling between two amazing story lines taking place at two different times with some of the same principal players.

At the end of the day, while I did shed some tears, I truly enjoyed this book far more then I expected. It may have been slightly predictable, but the emotion, characterization and humanity found between the covers of Moon over Manifest are astronomical! They grab hold of you and don't readily release you back into the real world.

What do I rate this book?

I give this book a


out of

5 railroad ties

Well, that's what I thought about this book, what did you think? Did you love it? Hate it? Want to move to Manifest? Let us know in the comments.

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