Moon Over Manifest *****
by Clare Vanderpool
Overview: A young girl is sent by her vagabond father to live for a summer in the small town of Manifest. During that summer she tries to discover more about her history and what tie this town has to her past. She has adventures with the local kids, an unusual friendship with a "fortune teller", and much more. The story is also a mystery because part of the tale takes place in the past and part in the present. You don't know until the end how the past has affected the present.
Themes: friendship, family, redemption, prejudice
Positive elements: The story shows how people can come alongside each other and help each other out. It shows the terrible effects of prejudice on a generation. It talks about being free from your past and having hope for the future.
Negative elements: There is a "fortune teller," but she isn't really practicing magic. One of the characters dies in war. There is illegal alcohol being made. A father abandons his daughter. There is a murder. There are definitely some mature themes, but the story is beautifully crafted.
Conclusion: This is one of my favorite books I've read lately. I love how the characters change through the story and how they are all related and influence each other. There is such powerful imagery throughout the book as well.