Talking Books Thursday - Moon Over Manifest

This book has it all!  Beginning with an engrossing story told in vivid, conversational language, I could see the movie and hear the characters' different voices in my head from the very first page.  Set in a coal-mining, immigrant town during the Depression, half of the story takes place in flashbacks 20 years earlier during World War I.  

Abilene Tucker doesn't know why her father sent her to stay in Manifest, and she doesn't know when, or if, he will come back to get her.  Left with a preacher/Speakeasy owner named Shady, Abilene knows her father has some connection to the town, but she doesn't know what it is.  A childhood of riding the rails with her father has prepared her for being independent and given her a keen insight into the motivations and peculiarities of people.  She makes an unlikely connection to the town's diviner, Miss Sadie, who may not be able to see the future, but can fill in all of the holes from the past. Between Miss Sadie's stories, a box filled with old letters and memorabilia found in the floorboards at Shady's, and researching old newspaper clippings, Abilene is putting all her hopes in the ability of Manifest to reveal her place in the world and reconnect her to a father that she fears she may never see again.  It's a book that I didn't want to end, but when it did, it felt absolutely complete.

As if the rich language, thematic content, and engaging characters aren't enough to study, Vanderpool further enriches the text with notes on the history and fiction behind the story.  There is also a list of suggested reading.  Both make it an ideal text for cross curricular studies even if you aren't a Common Core state.  You could use this text to explore the Spanish Flu, World War I, immigration, worker's and civil rights, and environmental issues, to name a few.

Though I frequently skip the author's acknowledgments, I found myself wanting to read everything the author had to say about this book.  It impressed me that much. Vanderpool rewards with her dedication to her parents.  Her remembrance of one of their greatest lessons to her, "My parents taught me not to waste time trying to figure out if I could do something.  Just figure out how to get it done." needs to be shared with everyone.  Oh yes, this is going in my Makerspace mantra.  See what I mean by that first line?  This book has it all! 


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