Moon Over Manifest Clare Vanderpool
Abilene's father has a new job and so he sends her to live with a preacher in Manifest. Abilene quickly learns that Shady isn't your average preacher and that Manifest holds secrets that may point to her father and why he sent her away. While working for Miss Sadie, a Hungarian fortune teller, Abilene starts to hear the story of Manifest 20 years ago.
It's two stories in one-- Abilene's story in 1936 as she makes friends and searches out the past, and Manifest's story in 1917.
This is going to sound weird, but... Abilene's story reminds me a bit of Pollyanna (and I mean that in the BEST way possible. Hot damn did I love that movie as a kid. Even more, I loved the Disney TV movie, Polly.) But it has that same sort of "abandonded child comes to town and heals it of past hurts" feel to it. I loved Abilene's friendship with Lettie and Ruthanne. I loved Shady and Miss Sadie and, most of all, Sister Redempta. I loved how, even though the Depression is there, this isn't a book about the Depression.
The 1917 story has a bit of "orphan saves town!" feel to it to, but it ends with the hurts that Abilene has to fix. I loved the way the town banded together, how they bonded over their immigrant status instead of letting culture and linguistics divide them. I loved the Temperance society and the bootleggers, and the running gag of Miss Velma T blowing up the chemistry lab mixing her elixirs. Also, WWI doesn't hurt. Although... there's one point where Ned is saying that he doesn't know what country he's from, and he could be French or German or even from Czechoslovakia. Except that in 1917, Czechoslovakia didn't exist yet-- it was part of the dismantling of Austria-Hungary after the war. I know that's being nitpicky, but errors like that pull me right out of a story. Because I see that and think "wait, what? no... that's not right" but then I spend the next 30 minutes researching that bit of information and not reading the story. It takes a very strong story to let me fall back in after something like that. This one did.
While I got into right away, it took me awhile before I stopped demanding that it prove itself to me. Prove to me why you're worthy of the Newbery! Prove to me you're more awesome than One Crazy Summer! PROVE IT! PROVE IT NOW! One Crazy Summer still gets my vote for Newbery, but I know why Moon Over Manifest was chosen. It made me laugh and broke my heart and left me with one lingering questions... did Abilene ever get the compass back from Miss Sadie? Did she want it back, in the end?
Book Provided by... my local library
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