Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sharing: Same Sun Here

This book was so special to me! Growing up and raising my own family in Eastern Kentucky, it is incredibly refreshing and encouraging to read a work that paints us as many of us are; multifaceted, empowered, passionate, and something much more than "hillbillies looking for handouts." Silas House never fails to make me feel validated each and every time I read anything he writes. This book is no different.

This is an epistolary novel, showcasing letters written between two twelve year olds that become pen-pals: River, from the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Kentucky, and Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City. They almost immediately make a pact to be their "own true selves" with one another, even when it's uncomfortable. In doing so, they learn so much about one another's cultures, about the wider world around them, and about how we are all not-so-different after all.
Both Meena and River are living without their fathers due to economic hardship, both have grandmothers that they idolize, and both are adolescents, just trying to figure out what's going on inside and how that impacts the way they view the world.

This book touches on so much that resonated deeply with me: the state of the precious Appalachian mountains and the plight of those that live near MTR sites, condemning racism and homophobia, having a curious mind and an open heart when learning about new cultures, and learning about the importance of non-violent civil disobedience. This book highlights the fact that sometimes it is the small, brave acts that make the biggest impact.

I can't say enough good things. Once again, Silas House has lovingly painted an accurate portrait of living in Appalachia, and Neela Vaswani has interwoven a surprisingly parallel experience as an immigrant in New York City.

This book is great for ages 9 and up, and there are so many different issues at play here it could be easily integrated into the classroom to teach letter writing, respect for other cultures and religions, mountain top removal, active citizenship, the importance of libraries.... I could go on and on :-)

Personally, here in Eastern Kentucky, my own students will love this, because it is respectfully, meticulously them.

This book will be available from Candlewick Press in February 2012.

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