2011 Medal Winner
"Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it's just a worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to "Leave Well Enough Alone."
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest's history is full of colorful and shadowy characters - and long-held secrets. And as those secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town."
This is the first book to be named winner since I started my project. I followed all the "predictions" of who would win the prize back in January, and apparently this one came as a surprise. So, I've been anxious to read it. It was so good, and so interestingly written. The story alternates generations - it begins in 1936, with Abilene's story, but alternates with what happened in the town in 1918. Sometimes when authors do that it gets confusing, but this was written in such a way that it was only natural. It had a surprise ending that tied the whole story together, and I am always a sucker for things like that. This is Clare Vanderpool's first novel, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future!