Friday, February 6, 2015

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech

This book was on a list of Mayor's Book Club books from Kuna library for older elementary grades. As you can see, it's also a medal winner.

I LOVED this book. It was beautiful and sad and comforting all at the same time. The bulk of this story is told as Salamanca (Sal) tells a story to her grandparents on a long road trip to Idaho. She is 13 and cannot accept that her Mother left her Father years ago. So her grandparents bring her on this road trip. They ask her to tell a story, so she tells the story of her new friend Pheobe (who gran keeps calling Peeby) and how her life with her parents was incredibly prim and proper and full of only the best healthy things. Their house is always in order and they don't eat cholesterol. They also always act in a proper way, like civilized people. Then they start getting notes about things on the door which shakes up the whole family.

There's also Sal's dad who has become really good friends with a Mrs. Cadaver, who Pheobe is certain killed her first husband (with a name like that, who wouldn't suspect a thing?), who lives with her mother who is blind but tends to see more than most sighted people.

One thing I absolutely LOVED was the take on race. Sal's mother is Native American. Although she (and apparently others of that lineage according to this book) actually really don't like that term. Her mom liked American Indian better because she thought it felt more exotic. She talks about how in school they want you to say "Native American". Ah, good old political correctness! On the road trip, Sal goes to the Black Hills and sees Native American's (or whatever you want to call them) mining. She asks one "Are you Native American?" and he response "I'm a person." And she says, "Well, are you a Native American person?" because she is, by heritage Native as well. But in that short interchange you realize that maybe we shouldn't be so hell bent on classifying people. Obviously, it's wonderful to celebrate different cultures and different ancestry, but if we can see people first as PEOPLE, maybe we can make things better. But of course, not every person of native descent prefers the term Indian, some DO want to be known as Native American, it's very hard. I know I've caught myself trying to be more respectful and end up overly cautious and politically correct. It's a sticky situation we've got these days.

It's hard to tell much more about this book without giving away plot details, so if you haven't read it and don't want anything spoiled, then stop reading right here!

There were several times when I wondered if Sal's mom was dead or if she really had left them. I was definitely kept guessing. She had experienced a horrible miscarriage/still birth that Sal felt was her fault because she had fallen out of a tree and her mother had to carry her while very pregnant for a good distance. But because of this uncertainty, it really felt like you were inside Sal, because SHE herself had not accepted reality yet, so you can see her indecision of whether or not her mom was still around, but toying with the idea of death as an option. But not one she would accept until she saw things for herself. We also deal with new fresh grief towards the end of the book as well. I feel that it was handled really well, and would make for a really good discussion. I'm not sure this is a book that I'd let my 9 year old read yet, maybe I'd wait until she was closer in age to Sal.

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