Moon over Manifest

Written by Clare Vanderpool
Review by Patricia O’Sullivan

Abilene Tucker is used to living on the road with her father, Gideon. But one summer during the Depression, Gideon sends Abilene to stay in Manifest, Kansas, with a friend. In Manifest, Abilene finds mementos Gideon left behind as a boy and realizes that he is not coming back for her. As she digs deeper into Gideon’s past, Abilene comes to understand that her father’s story is woven into Manifest’s own troubled history.

Filled with lively characters and narrated in several different voices, Moon over Manifest is a gem of a story for young readers. Abilene is a spunky, likeable girl who befriends a heavy-drinking preacher named Shady, a Hungarian fortune-teller, the town’s midwife (who is also the school mistress and a nun), a gossip columnist, and affable cousins Ruthanne and Lettie. These new friends help Abilene uncover the secrets and tragedies of her father’s past through storytelling, divination, old newspaper articles and letters, and a good deal of snooping.