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Gr 5-8–History and fiction marry beautifully in this lively debut novel. It's as if readers jump off the train in Manifest, KS, in 1936 with Abilene Tucker, 12, the feisty, likable, and perceptive narrator. She is there to live with Pastor Shady Howard, her father's friend, while her father works on the railroad back in Iowa. An equally important story set during World War I is artfully intertwined. Since her mother went off on her own 10 years earlier, Abilene and Gideon have been alone. Though their life together is unsettled, their bond is strong. Shady's place is shabby, but he is welcoming. The mystery about Manifest and Gideon unfolds after Abilene finds a box filled with intriguing keepsakes. It includes a letter dated 1917 to someone named Jinx from Ned Gillen that has a warning, “THE RATTLER is watching.” This starts Abilene, with the help of new friends Ruthanne and Lettie, on a search to learn the identity of the pair. The story cleverly shifts back and forth between the two eras. Abilene becomes connected to Miss Sadie, a “diviner” who slowly leads her through the story of Ned and Jinx. Though the girl is lonely, she adjusts to her new life, feeling sure that her father will come for her at summer's end. The Ku Klux Klan and its campaign against the many immigrants working in the coal mines and the deplorable conditions and exploitation of these men provide important background. This thoroughly enjoyable, unique page-turner is a definite winner.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.” Grades 5-8. --Kathleen IsaacsSee all Editorial Reviews
I found it to be an interesting portrayal of the effects of war and depression on a small rural community. I thought the characters were well done.Published 8 days ago by Marilyn
This is a favorite book in our family. We needed to have a copy for our library.
Seller was fine.
Loved this story. Kept me intrigued til the end. Very well written.Published 19 days ago by Colleen Welch
Good read about the hard life of the poor during war time in 1917, and the bigotry that existed at the time. The story is told by a girl who lived in 1936. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Barbara A Kaplan
I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I I hate . . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . I hate . Read morePublished 27 days ago by sapna
I ended up getting a whole class set of this for work. I've read it twice. Sometimes the flashback is a little tough to follow, but you'll love the characters.Published 1 month ago by Susan M.
Love this book! Brings out the little girl in you. I was able to meet with Clare Vanderpool at a young authors book symposium in Provo this last week. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lisa
Based on the summary of the book, I went ahead and started reading with a "why not" attitude. This book grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let me go until the very last page! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amy B.