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.