The conductor came into the car. "Manifest, next stop."
The seven-forty-five evening train was going to be right on time. Conductors only gave a few minutes' notice, so I had to hurry. I shoved the compass into a side pocket of the satchel, then made my way to the back of the last car. Being a paying customer this time, with a full-fledged ticket, I didn't have to jump off, and I knew that the preacher would be waiting for me. But as anyone worth his salt knows, it's best to get a look at a place before it gets a look at you. I'd worn my overalls just for the occasion. Besides, it wouldn't be dark for another hour, so I'd have time to find my way around.
At the last car, I waited, listening the way I'd been taught - wait till the clack of the train wheels slows to the rhythm of your heartbeat. The trouble is my heart speeds up when I'm looking at the ground rushing by. Finally I saw a grassy spot and jumped. The ground came quick and hard, but I landed and rolled as the train lumbered on without a thank-you or goodbye.
- Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Abilene Tucker's spending the summer in Manifest while her father, Gideon, works his railroad job. The Preacher Howard, called Shady, has taken her in - as he has taken in many a soul who needs shelter. Shady may live in an old broken-down Baptist church, but he's also an old bootlegger from way back. It isn't long before Abilene is working for the gypsy diviner Miss Sadie and even less time before she uncovers a mystery that goes right back to 1918, a spy, a swindle, a murder and two young boys called Ned and Jinx.
It's Kansas in 1936. I like to think that Abilene is what might have happened if John Steinbeck and Harper Lee made a baby, or rather, Moon Over Manifest is what might have happened if they made a book together. Like the Tillermans, Abilene wonders about where home is and where she belongs. As she listens to Miss Sadie's story about Ned and Jinx, she weaves a thread between the past and present, between the people of Manifest ... while just possibly tying herself into the tale as well.
Moon Over Manifest won the Newbery Medal in 2011
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