Thursday, August 15, 2013
Same Sun Here
Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani, 2012.
This is the story of two best friends who have never met. Meena and River get to know each other through an old fashioned snail mail pen pal program through their schools. They decide to always be their true selves with each other, and in the 10 months of shared letters before they meet, they help each other through tragedy and celebrate their small and grand triumphs. They fight and make up and share books and songs that they love, as well as feelings that they won't tell anyone else.
Meena is an immigrant girl from India who lives in Chinatown in New York with her parents and sassy older brother. She enjoys city life but misses her grandmother, Dadi, in Mussoorie and has worries that she and her family will be denied U.S, citizenship or may lose their home in a neighbor's rent controlled apartment. River lives in Appalachian Kentucky with his activist grandmother, Mamaw, and his sick mother and coal miner father. He loves the beautiful eastern Kentucky country and playing basketball with his friends, but also has worries when the government begins mining his hometown through mountaintop removal, which destroys the natural world and proves dangerous to the people living there. Despite their obvious differences, Meena and River find that they both love and admire their grandmothers, have fathers who must be absent a lot due to work, and love dogs. Significantly, each young teen also has a passion for justice.
The authors House and Vaswani have created strong and memorable, admirable characters in Meena and River. Meena is intelligent, feisty and straightforward. River is loyal, brave and goodhearted. Although at times I felt that they were a bit wise beyond their years, I think that kids will be able to relate to them and will enjoy how they bond and encourage each other to grow. In Meena and River's stories, they will see the way immigrants and the financially poor can be disregarded and endangered by greedy and careless people. Readers will also receive a strong social message about standing up for what they believe is right. So, please pick up the book and meet River and Meena!