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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 120 | May 24, 2009|


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Book Review

Walk Two Moons
Author- Sharon Creech

Reviewer- Sameeha Suraiya

JOURNEYS on the road have showed up time and again in the course of literature; characters collide on strange lands, troubled souls would begin to see themselves anew as they are thrust on towards foreign trails. In the myriad of situations that can be found, one thing is for certain, and that is travels have always held much symbolic resonance. Walk Two Moons tells the tale of thirteen year old Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Sal) and her cross country trip with her grandparents, with a quest of her own. This is no ordinary vacation. Sal's mother has gone to “find herself,” and Sal hopes to bring her back home. As she embarks upon this seemingly pleasure ride from Ohio to Idaho, she is about to face elusive answers and come to terms with difficult choices.

Through humour and poignancy, Sharon Creech, multi-award winning American writer for young adults, addresses loving, dying and grieving. A coming-of-age novel in the truest sense of the word, it portrays a girl's journey, literal and metaphoric, towards a greater understanding of her own self and the world that she has tumbled into. To pass time and also to keep her mind off the crazy driving, Sal tells stories of the various people she had befriended to her zany Grams and Gramps Hiddle. What results in is there are stories within the story of Sal Hiddle, layered with Greek myths, Native American myths, old family stories, and snippets from students' journals. Each story fits into the main narrative and also resonates and amplifies the meaning of the epigraph of the novel, "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins". It is an advice that comes to Sal right on her doorstep, and one that she takes to heart.

As we learn about Sal's mother's sudden disappearance, we also come across characters like Phoebe Winterbottom, Ms Cadaver and Ben, all of whom make for the most delightful surprises that will come your way till the end. It is brilliant how artfully, and with a style so near to perfection that Creech weaves in Sal and Phoebe's stories simultaneously. The intertwined story of love and loss is richly satisfying. Throughout the novel, the characters use journeys as a means of both escaping from a painful present and of invoking confrontation with the source of their trouble. Sal's mother and Phoebe's mother leave home to come to terms with their doubts about their pasts and their present roles. Each character uses a physical journey to induce an emotional journey, which will, they hope, allow them to live more truly and fully in their original roles. As the miles roll by, we come to know Sal's deepest thoughts, dreams and fears.

Walk Two Moons cleverly delves into the complexities of relationships, between friends, spouses, parent and child, boy and girl, humans and their environment, all with the underlying theme of never to judge a man without having walked in his shoes. From the delightfully mischievous (and deeply in love) Gram and Gramps, to the sensitive soul that is Sal, to Phoebe Winterbottom, with her overactive imagination and drama-queen tendencies, by the end of the book you know and care about each one.

Complete with cool cultural elements since Sal's Native American heritage is explored through festivals, personal habits, and the story telling tradition, and some wacky names, the writing is beautiful, poetic, understated and powerful.

Just when you think you know where the plot is headed, Creech drops a few surprises on you and a curve ball is thrown right between the pages. Don't be surprised if a small tear trickles down your cheek too. Go treat yourselves to a great summer read!

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