Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Exposition (Initial Situation)
Meet the Cast. Oh, And Meet This Other Cast, Too.
The exposition takes a while in Moon Over Manifest, and it's no wonder. We have to be introduced first to Abilene and the inhabitants of 1936 Manifest: Shady, Hattie Mae, Sister Redempta, and Lettie and Ruthanne. But then we also have to get to know the 1918 town of Manifest, through Miss Sadie and her initial story about Ned and Jinx. It's like speed dating—can you keep them all straight?
Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)
Since we've got two stories going on at once now, we've got two complications to deal with. Abilene's comes when she breaks Miss Sadie's pot and has to start working off her debt at her house. And since she's hearing more of Jinx's story each day she's there, her complication brings about the one in Miss Sadie's tale: Arthur Devlin is mean enough to his miners as it is, but when he gets his KKK members to burn a cross in front of the German miners' hall, the town decides they've had enough.
Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)
We Don't Think Our Hearts Can Take This Much Excitement
Many conflicts lead to… many crises. In our 1936 storyline, one turning point is when Abilene finds the Rattler with her memory contest; she's beginning to provide some closure to a town mystery.
Meanwhile, Miss Sadie's leg infection is at its worst, which prompts her to finish telling her story all the way to the end. And what's going on in that story? Jinx and the townspeople stick it to Arthur Devlin and Lester Burton, managing to buy the land they need as a bargaining tool. Plus, Jinx manages to survive an attack by his uncle Finn. Both events allow Jinx and the town to start over and try to live a better life. Man, these kids are busy, huh?
Cleaning Up After Dad
Jinx leaves town again when he finds out about Ned's death, and Abilene figures out that Jinx is actually her father. Her engagement with Miss Sadie's story has given the fortune-teller a way to get over her grief and has brought the town back together. So basically, our girl Abilene heals all the wounds that Jinx had caused. Nice.
Home is Where the Heart Is
When Abilene tricks her dad into coming back for her, she manages to merge her story with Jinx's. They're both home in Manifest for good now, and everyone in town gets a second chance. Yee-haw.