February 16, 2011 | goulds
This year's Newbery Award winning book, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, presents a story within a story and is totally captivating. Historical fiction should always be this compelling. But you can read the rave reviews and plot summaries by clicking on the link to this item in our catalog. What I want to relate is why this superb novel touched me personally. One story take place in 1936, during The Great Depression. I grew up hearing stories and accounts of what it was like to live during this trying time from my parents and grandparents. My mother told about searching for stray pennies in couch cushions to buy a loaf a bread. She had to sleep on the floor so boarders could have the beds in the bedrooms. The city of Detroit had to pay its police officers (as in my grandfather) in scrip because it had no cash. Many retailers wouldn't accept scrip. Memories were endless.
The other story begins the year my father was born, 1917, also the year my mother's father went to fight in The Great War in France. My grandfather loved to sing us little songs he learned in France when we were kids and recount his experiences there. Vanderpool relates a bit darker picture of the war than my grandfather did, but that was one of grandfather's many blessings, to see the good and joyful even in times of darkness.
I never knew my father's parents, nor did he. They died during the influenza pandemic of 1918. A brother of his father, recently returned from France, unknowingly infected them all during a Christmas visit. He died along with them a few weeks later. My father and his two brothers were alone for almost two days before neighbors found them. They thought my 18 month old father was also dead, but doctors miraculously revived him, or I wouldn't be writing this now. Vanderpool's depiction of the deadly Spanish Influenza is spot on.
Such are my sentiments. I encourage others to share their reactions to this award winning work of literary art.