Moon Over Manifest- by Clare Vanderpool

This little darling of a book, like usual, wasn’t recommended to me by anyone as I am not into the habit of asking for recs. I am pretty satisfied with the way I discover new authors and that’s to scour the internet looking for books similar to what I have previously enjoyed. Which is how I ended up stumbling on Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest.

Clare is actually an award winning author and it kind of surprised me that I had never heard of her, which goes to show how hard it is for even good authors to get meaningful publicity these days.

Moon Over Manifest is a crossover YA novel narrated mainly through the eyes of twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker, who has been sent by her father to Manifest, a Kansas town, to live with an old buddy of his. While there, Abilene discovers a treasure trove of cryptic notes and mementos, which lead her on a chase to discover the real identity of the Rattler, a supposed first-world-war spy.

Several other points of view in addition to Abilene’s are used, and the book switches between scenes taking place in the war years 1917-18 and the book’s present, 1937.

My review: I gave this novel five stars on Goodreads. Abilene, young as she is, is a compelling and sympathetic narrator who does things very few other kids of her age would. Together with her sidekicks, Lettie and Ruthanne whom she has just befriended, she ends up solving an age old mystery that would otherwise have lain hidden for eternity.

Clare’s prose is impeccable and the way she weaves between events in different time periods is nothing short of amazing. You have to read this to find out for yourself.

I’m Not Dying With You

A collaboration from two female authors. This YA contemporary novel from Gilly Segal and Kimberley Jones features two teens, one black, the other white, who hardly know each other well in the beginning, but then get sucked into violence which starts at their school and ends up in the city streets.

Although this unusual YA story that is told from two different perspectives explores some topical issues that are worth paying attention to, I felt it didn’t hit all the right spots. It felt rushed in some areas, whereas in others it felt too convenient, like the authors just came up with this quick story idea because they had a subject they wanted explored at all costs.

Lena, the black girl is the cool stylish one, madly in love with a rapper who in many ways doesn’t show like he shares the same deep feelings with her. Many times over, she just seems like an afterthought. Campbell, the white half of the novel seems like the more grounded one. She is new to town, living with her divorced father after her mother has been forced by circumstances to accept a job outside the country.

I listened to the audio version of this book and the two voices did come out distinctly enough. The story’s two sides mesh quite well and subtle comparisons are made between the problems that black youths face and those that whites do. The idea was a good almost political one, but somehow the plot still didn’t rise to the great level that I expected.

It’s a three-star rating for me. If you have read this one tell me what you think.