Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

It's always been just Abilene and Gideon, her dad. They ride the rails from city to city, Gideon takes on odd jobs, and they figure out a way to survive. This time, she's on her own. Gideon has sent her back to his hometown of Manifest, Kansas for the summer of 1936. Her only tie to the place is in the form of an old newspaper article in which she keeps Gideon's prized pocketwatch. Manifest is a place unlike any she has been before. She stays with Pastor Shady, who is only the interim pastor, and also the local saloon owner. In her room at Shady's, Abilene discovers a box of keepsakes and letters, one of which warns of "THE RATTLER". She meets Mrs. Hattie Mae, the author of the 1917 article she treasures, and learns that Hattie Mae still writes her daily column all these years later. She befriends Lettie and Ruthanne, cousins who join her in her quest for an adventure.

Practically her first day she's getting in to trouble. She misplaces her dad's watch, and finds it on the porch of the local "diviner," or fortune teller, but she gets so spooked she ends up breaking one of her pots and runs off. Returning the next day, she strikes a deal with Miss Sadie, owner and proprietor, to return and do odd jobs to pay off her debt. In exchange, Miss Sadie tells her the history of the objects she has found in her room - and slowly, the story of Ned and Jinx unfolds.

While Lettie and Ruthanne help her discover clues, they search for the identity of "THE RATTLER". Abilene slowly learns the history of Manifest, and its heritage as a mining town. She hears the stories of the large number of immigrants that lived there, and begins to see connections from the past to today. Ned is an orphan who was adopted by members of the town, Jinx is a wanderer who stops in Manifest and decides to stay a while. The two become fast friends, and are always in the middle of some mischief. Jinx is the consumate con artist, and even uses his powers for good now and then.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, and from two time periods (1917-18 and 1936). One perspective is Abilene's, one is told through Hattie Mae's column (both past and present), Miss Sadie tells the story of Ned and Jinx in the past, and one perspective comes from the box of letters and keepsakes Abilene has found. These threads are woven together to create a story that will stay with you long after you have run out of pages to read. It's no wonder this is the 2011 Newbery Award Winner, and I'm proud to say it was written by a woman from my hometown.
"It is not down on any map; true places never are," (Melville quoted in Vanderpool pg. 1, 2010).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Vanderpool, Clare. (2010). Moon Over Manifest. New York: Delacourt Press.

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