Study Guide

Moon Over Manifest Summary

By Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest Summary

Moon Over Manifest is the story of a girl, who… no, wait, it's actually the story of a boy, who… well, then there's that other part about that other boy… oh, and that one lady's story, too—yikes, whose story is this, anyway?

Well, you could say it's the story of Abilene, a 12-year-old girl used to living rough with her dad during the Great Depression. He sends her to stay with an old friend of his, named Shady, in the town of Manifest for the summer. While she's there, she has an awesome time trying to solve an old town mystery with her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, looking for traces of a spy: the Rattler. She also spends time doing odd jobs for Miss Sadie, a fortune-teller, and while she works, Miss Sadie tells her a story about the town's past.

The weird thing is, you could also say Miss Sadie's story is the main storyline of the book. She tells Abilene about two boys, Jinx and Ned, who become friends in Manifest during World War I. Ned ends up going off to war, but Jinx, a former con artist, stays and helps the poor miners of Manifest, who are totally being oppressed by the rich mine owners. He comes up with a plan to make and sell a "miracle elixir" to people with the Spanish Influenza, so the townspeople can raise enough money to buy a piece of land that the mine owner, Arthur Devlin, needs to continue mining. Once they have it, they can force him to give them better working conditions.

Jinx's crazy-complicated plan is a success, but then his past catches up with him, and his awful uncle almost kills him. When he escapes alive, he thinks he's finally home free—until he hears that Ned has been killed in action. Jinx is so upset that he leaves town forever.

As for Ned, his story is another big part of the book, since we get to read all his letters from the front. Oh, and we also get the skinny on Miss Sadie herself, who turns out to be Ned's biological mother. In the end, all the stories weave themselves together into one big happy ending: Abilene learns that Jinx was actually her dad, and she heals Miss Sadie's sadness, the town's divisions, and her own daddy's heart—all just by digging into the past.