Walk Two Moons

742238

NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1995

Walk Two Moons

by Sharon Creech

Age: 10 +

Interests: mystery, family, death, grandparents, friendship, first love, divorce

HarperCollins: 1994

280 pages, 44 chapters

Also by this author: Ruby Holler, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, Bloomability, The Wanderer, Love That Dog, Heartbeat, Replay, Hate That Cat

Salamanca Hiddle is a country girl transplanted to the city just as she’s trying to make sense of the loss of her mother. She embarks on a lengthy road trip with her eccentric grandparents, and when they ask her to tell them a story she launches into the saga of her new friend Phoebe. Phoebe’s life was thrown into turmoil when her mother abruptly left, and Phoebe’s imagination went into immediate overdrive. Refusing to believe her mother would leave, she decides she was kidnapped, and her suspicion turns to her next-door-neighbour and the bodies she may have buried in her garden. As Sal tells Phoebe’s story, she gains new insights into her own sense of loss and grief. And as the car nears their destination, the city where Sal’s mother is, Sal finally accepts that her mother is really never coming back.

A road trip story with some really amusing characters: Gram and Gramps are quite hilarious, and Sal’s own first stirrings of love for a boy in her class are really funny. The Hiddles also have their own way of expressing themselves, and Sal’s narrative voice is always entertaining. The tone is light and comedic to balance some heavy themes: a miscarriage is graphically related, a disturbing memory for Sal and one that unhinged her mother for a long time after. The fate of her mother is only told near the end of the book – she perished in a horrific bus accident. And near the very end her Gram suffers a stroke and dies rather suddenly. Tragedy touches nearly every peripheral character – Mrs. Cadaver witnesses the death of her husband, Ben’s mother is mentally ill and no longer knows him.

This is a well written and entertaining book – I read it in one sitting, going late into the night – but it did feel a little cluttered, packed full of event and detail. It’s richly layered to the point of distraction. And the surprise twist that Sal’s mother is actually dead was telegraphed several times; I would think most readers would figure it out long before the ending.

I was immediately reminded of Creech’s Carnegie Medal winner Ruby Holler, which also features incorrigible children and loving, eccentric grandparents. Kate diCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses also addresses family breakup and trauma with equally quirky characters but much more magic and superpowers.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.