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Autumn 2010 Kids' Next List
“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
The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I'd seen only in Gideon's stories: Manifest--A Town with a rich past and a bright future.
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it's just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to "Leave Well Enough Alone."
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest's history is full of colorful and shadowy characters--and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest's secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.
Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool's debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.
"From the Hardcover edition.