Not only was Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool, a Newbery Award winner, it was also a New York Times bestseller, according to the cover. A book full of mysteries, both big and little, it is a lush 342 pages, long enough to relax into the tale and let it unwind itself.
The adolescent girl Abilene is at the heart of the story. At least she is the heart of the story of her present day, which is actually back in the 30's, in the depression era. A sort of parallel story is going on alternately, which is happening around 1918, during WW1.
Abilene has been sent by her father to the town of Manifest, his hometown. They both rode the rails, until she became ill. She recovered, but it spooked him and caused him to send her there into the care of an old acquaintance. She knows nothing about the town, nothing about his presence there, nothing about the people, except embellished stories he has told her. She understands that she is to find out certain things, but no one in town is apparently willing to fill her in. She gains a couple of gal pals and they start sleuthing around, looking for the answer to some of the questions brought up by a bundle of old letters she has found in a secret hiding place.
Her best source turns out to be the local mystic/diviner. Abilene ends up spending time with her, and the old woman tells her, as if in a trance, segments of what happened back during the time of her father's childhood. Finally it all comes together, and Abilene is made more whole, along with those around her.
It could have been a little more confusing to keep track of what time period was going on at different times, but a couple things helped. The typeset was different, and the present day is told first person, while the older time is told by a narrator. But still, thinking back on the story, parts of my mind get a little confused about when was when. I liked the story and appreciate a lot of the elements, such as how people can give a first impression, but then when you get to know them, how different the story is.
Vanderpool is a really good writer, but... I liked reading it, but I didn't LOVE reading it. Why? I'm not sure. Personal preference with the style, possibly. I found it harder than I would have thought to latch on to Abby as someone I liked/identified with/had strong feelings about. The girls' conversations and figures of speech, and Abby's internal conversation just didn't grab me that much.
There is plenty here to enjoy and try to guess along with the clues gradually revealed, and the end wraps itself up pretty well. It was interesting to me that I am also in the middle of an audiobook with the subject being the 1918 influenza pandemic, which was also part of the "older time" part of the book.
I bought this copy from Amazon.