14 March 2014

Moon Over Manifest: 2011 Newbery Award

I have started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book.  A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.

Moon Over Manifest book cover.jpg
Cover of the book - The image is used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause.

Manifest: To Reveal or to Make Known
"If there is such a thing as a universal..... it's that there is power in a story."  

Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker knows one thing for certain, even if everyone else doubts it; her father will return,at the end of summer to get her.  At the height of the Depression, Abilene is sent to the town of Manifest, Kansas to spend the summer with friends of her father.  She arrives in time for the last day of school and receives an assignment from the solitary schoolteacher: write a story.  Abilene spends the summer figuring out just what her story is, as well as finding out the story of the town of Manifest.  Throughout her journey, she learns that she is helping to heal a town, and that loving and being loved both leave scars.

I read Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool without knowing anything about either the book or the author.  Perhaps that was a good thing, because I did not have any notions about what I might be reading and were able to discover both the author's storytelling ability and the story itself..  The story spans two distinct times in American History, as it covers both the end of World War One and the Spanish influenza epidemic as well as the middle of the Great Depression, when people had given up hope.  Being a History buff, the stories that are woven through the main plot were fascinating and brought to life an era that is often times drab and dreary for me.

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was captivated until the end by the themes of hope and hopelessness, of belonging and loneliness, of the story.   Clare Vanderpool was able to tell a story that is universal.  Like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, this story tells of heartbreak during the depression, but unlike the former, Moon Over Manifest was able to leave me feeling like something good is coming to the characters.  There is a power in this story.

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