Heartwarming Tale: Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool


This Newbery Medal winning novel is a delightful, engaging story. Set during the depression in a small Kansas town, this redemptive tale features a unique cast of characters, witty dialogue, and a young feisty heroine.

Abilene Tucker is less than thrilled when she arrives in Manifest, Kansas, where she knows no one. Unsure why her father sent her there, she begins to search for answers. As she interacts with the townsfolks, she uncovers some clues to a mystery from the past. However, the more she uncovers about the town of Manifest, the more questions arise about her own background.

Author Clare Vanderpool is a gifted storyteller. The novel is filled with history, humor, and heartfelt moments that blend together perfectly. I loved how the story was revealed through newspaper clippings, shared memories, and Abilene’s growing friendships. While this middle-grade story is not specifically a Christian novel, it is a wonderful, inspiring, and clean novel, written by a Catholic author, that readers will love.


The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.
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.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Author: Leslea Wahl

Leslea Wahl is an award-winning author of Catholic teen adventurous mysteries. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her family. Leslea believes one way to encourage teens in their faith is through positive messages and Catholic values, embedded in great stories. She is excited to share her reviews of some incredible Catholic books, all of which have received the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval. Find her online at LesleaWahl.com