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."
Abilene's entry into Manifest is as quick and hard as that ...
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