Review: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Audio Publisher: Listening Library/Books on Tape
Release Date: October 12, 2010
book info: Goodreads Shelfari author website

From Goodreads: Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was…Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption

My Thoughts: When Patricia Reilly Giff, blurbed on the front of Moon Over Manifest that it was “the best book I’ve read in ages” –I was excited, but also doubtful. Could this be that great a book? Turns out-it was pretty great-plus it’s the 2011 Newbery Medal Winner, which means I’m not the only one who liked it ☺.

Our protagonist comes to Manifest, Kansas, in 1936 because her father needs to work on a railroad job without her (and her mother has disappeared long ago). The novel goes back and forth from 1917-1918 and the summer of 1936 as Abilene pieces together old newspaper articles and old letters from a mysterious Ned to an equally unknown Jinx to discover what connection her father has with this town.

In the process, we come to love not only Abilene, but also the town-a melting pot of immigrants brought in to slave away in the coal mines, but with personalities and secrets of their own!

This unique tale reminded me very much of Richard Peck’s Fair Weather series with great characters and unique plot twists, but with a more poignant ending. Vanderpool’s prose is also quite beautiful; my favorite quote from the book: “Memories were like sunshine. They warmed you up and left a pleasant glow, but you couldn’t hold them.”

The main reader, Jenna Lamia, was excellent, lending a childlike naïvete to the role (and she also read the part of Skeeter in the audiobook of The Help, which made me like her even more) and the other two readers, Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne also delivered their emotional roles well.

Definitely something to enjoy this summer by yourself, or with a younger avid reader for great discussions.

I give this book 4.5 stacks with earbuds

-Sarah the Audiobibliophile

8 Responses to “Review: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool”

  1. Hafsah says:

    I’ve never listened to an audiobook (I know, I know, insert gasp here) but I like the sound of this one… I may have to check it out!

  2. I loved this book. Such a sweet story – and set in my homestate of Kansas too!

  3. Yeah-soo glad I could convince you to pick up an audiobook. I wouldn’t have started reading audiobooks myself, except that my husband started reading books because of audiobooks (he only read comic books before) so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out, I get so much more reading done now because I can be driving, cooking, cleaning etc while “reading” :).

  4. Brenda says:

    Um, the main reader is Justine Eyre, accompanied by Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne.

    I just finished the audio today – in tears. I liked it. I want to reread it with my eyes to get the flavor of the text. The Newbery win was a surprise for me. I can see why the committee liked it.

    It hasn’t circulated at all at my school. I tried to push it a bit when it won. Now that I’ve read it, I have a sense of which types of readers would like it.


  5. Brenda says:

    Hm-m. I was just setting up a cover for my blog post and the cover image states Jenna Lamia, however, I just finished listening and the the narrator definitely said Justine Eyre, as does the entry for the audio in my library cooperative. Curious.


  6. [...] “This unique tale reminded me very much of Richard Peck’s Fair Weather series with great characters and unique plot twists, but with a more poignant ending.”-Girls In the Stacks [...]

  7. Dee says:

    makes me wonder if Jenna Lamia is another name used by Justine Eyre for recording

  8. […] Bunbury In The Stacks – “I recommend this one with all my heart.” Reading Everywhere -”This novel works very well as an audiobook” Girls In The Stacks – “Vanderpool’s prose is also quite beautiful” […]

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