Release Date: February 14, 2012
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About The Book: In this extraordinary novel in two voices, an Indian immigrant girl in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner’s son find strength and perspective by sharing their true selves across the miles.
Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River's town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and, as their camaraderie deepens, discovering common ground in their disparate experiences. With honesty and humor, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions. Narrated in two voices, each voice distinctly articulated by a separate gifted author, this chronicle of two lives powerfully conveys the great value of being and having a friend and the joys of opening our lives to others who live beneath the same sun.—Goodreads
First Line: Dear River, I cannot tell from your name if you are a boy or a girl so I will just write to you like you are a human being.
What Others Are Saying:"The preteens reflect on everything from prejudice and religion to politics and music, but their voices are so open, true, and even humorous that the story never feels heavy or preachy (“You are the best person I know,” River writes. “But I’m sorry, I still don’t like to talk about shaving your legs and all that. That is something we will have to agree to disagree on”). Meena and River don’t have all their troubles worked out by book’s end, but readers will feel confident that their friendship will get them through whatever lies ahead." -Publishers Weekly
What I Thought: The first thing I noticed immediately was the voice and it isn't a Young Adult voice at all. River and Meena are definitely Tweens. A distictive voice is a common thread in the middle grade fiction that I'm attracted to. There's also a strong sense of place and time. Both writers create their worlds through words in letters, an art that many of our middle grade students are losing to the brevity of text and email. The contrast of the Appalachian rural and Indian urban worlds creates a wonderful place where they come together and construct their own safe place. The characters are dealing with family, school and locational issues that are relevant providing a wealth of fodder for educators. The format of the letter appealed to my interest in research and primary sources to create an accurate picture of real people. I see this as an enjoyable read aloud for most Tweens and a great read for middle graders.
About The Authors: Silas House and Neela
Silas House is an American writer best known for his novels. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist, and columnist. He lives in Eastern Kentucky, where he was born and raised.
House's fiction is known for its attention to the natural world, working class characters, and the plight of the rural place and rural people. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist and columnist. House has written features or press kits on such artists as Kris Kristofferson, LeAnn Womack, Lucinda Williams, Nickel Creek, Kelly Willis, Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Delbert McClinton, Tim O'Brien, Scott Miller, and many more. -Goodreads
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Neela Vaswani is the award-winning author of You Have Given Me a Country and Where the Long Grass Bends. Her work has received an American Book Award, an O. Henry Prize, and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award. She teaches at Spalding University's MFA in writing program and is the founder of the Storylines Project with the New York Public Library. Neela Vaswani lives in New York City. -Goodreads
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