Abilene Tucker is a kind of reverse Huck Finn. She has grown up on the road, riding the rails during the Depression with her father, moving between jobs and hobo camps. Her story properly begins the moment she jumps off a train and lands in Manifest, Kansas, alone and friendless. Her father had taught her to leap off a few hundred yards before a station so she can sneak into a town and get the lay of the land before making a proper appearance.
"At the last car, I waited, listening the way I'd been taughtwait till the clack of the train wheels slows to the rhythm of your heartbeat. The trouble is my heart speeds up when I'm looking at the ground rushing by. Finally, I saw a grassy spot and jumped. The ground came quick and hard, but I landed and rolled as the train lumbered on without a thank-you or goodbye."
Beyond the Book
Moon Over Manifest
began as a story the author clearly needed to hear. Her inspiration was a line in Moby Dick
that also influences Abilene: "It is not down in any map; true places never are."
On her website Vanderpool explains, "That really sparked my imagination. What is a true place? It conjured up ideas of home. Having lived most of my life in the same neighborhood, place is very important and for me true places are rooted in the familiar the neighborhood pool, the sledding hill, the shortcuts, all the places where memories abound. But I wondered, what would a 'true place' be for someone who has never lived anywhere for more than a few weeks or months at a time?"
She based Manifest on the town of Frontenac, Kansas, where her...