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Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Pub.Random House Children’s Books, 2010.

A good story can reach out and wrap around a person like a warm blanket. This excellent novel did that to me, I didn’t want to finish it, I wanted to read it every day. Quality writing, so good in fact that this novel won the Newbery Medal in 2010.

Set in the Kansas town of Manifest a word that means the passenger list of a ship and something that is self evident. Both meanings are relevant to this novel. Everyone has a story and a right to know their own story. This is the story of a 12 year old girl  Abilene, who narrates the novel.

Told in two time zones, the Depression year 1936 and the years American entered World War 1, 1917-18. It  is also the story of how the past impacts on the future and indeed the present.

Abilene is sent by her father to live in Manifest, a town he had good and bad experiences in. Abilene stays with the preacher Shady, who is aptly named. On arrival she finds a box hidden in the floorboards of her room that contain a number of objects that are keys to unlocking the past. One of these objects is a fishing lure called a Wiggle King which is so attractive that even a blind fish would go for it.

Like a blind fish I went for the story of Jinx and Ned as told to Abilene by a mysterious woman called Miss Sadie as she unravels the history of Manifest during the war years and the influenza epidemic of 1918. Through her revelations, the newspaper columns of  Hattie May Harper that are brilliant, and the letters from the Front by Ned Gillen,  Manifest’s and Abilene’s stories are told.

One word outstanding!

Intermediate and junior secondary students will love this but there is something in this novel for everyone. If you like classy writing then this is the best novel I have read this year.