Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

I recommend this book for:  grades 4-7

Abilene has grown up riding the rails and listening to her father's stories about Manifest, a town that sounds just about perfect.  When he sends her to live there for a summer while he works a railroad job that's no place for a young girl, she can hardly believe it is the same town.  It isn't until she starts to work for Miss Sadie, a Hungarian fortune teller, that she begins to hear the story of what Manifest used to be, as seen through the eyes of a young wanderer named Jinx.  She happens to find a box that belonged to Jinx in her bedroom, and although she'd like to think Miss Sadie's story is all fortune telling nonsense, she can't explain how a fraud could tell a story that includes all of the trinkets in the box.  The stories of Abilene and Jinx and how they each come to find a home in Manifest - and save the town itself - become deeply intertwined as Abilene begins to wonder if Jinx could really be her father.

I really enjoyed this one - the quirky characters, the Depression flavor, the unexpected twists (did you know that you could save a town from evil coal mine owners with moonshine?), and the very real sense of heartache experienced by many of the characters.  Although the end is hopeful and happy for Abilene, there is a lot of sadness along the way.  This is a lovely book, and it would be a good choice for fans of historical fiction or stories about families  It also has a bit of boy appeal - Jinx plays some fantastic practical jokes, so that could be a selling point.