December 22, 2012
The Canon: Walk Two Moons
Walk Two Moons is the story of Salamanca Tree Hiddle, a girl who misses her mother very much.
The book is about other things too. Eccentric grandparents, kissing trees, Phoebe Winterbottom and her mother's disappearance and a mysterious lunatic. But whenever I read this book I am utterly consumed by Sal and her overwhelming loneliness.
In many ways this book should have been the book of my childhood, and it's clear that much of my connection with this book has to do with personal association. Besides being an excellent exercise in storytelling, Walk Two Moons has perhaps the best portrayal of dead-parent-grief that I've ever read.
There's an exclusive club made up of children who lose a parent, and anyone who is not in that club has no idea. None whatsoever. But when I was reading Walk Two Moons for the first (and fifth, and twentieth) time, what came to mind first was a sense of wonder. How did she know? How did she get it that right? I don't know if Sharon Creech is a member of that club, but if she isn't, she must be a mind reader.
Generally speaking, I frown upon "issue" books. Books that well-intentioned but clueless adults ask for in the bookstore: "She's just lost her father, poor thing. Do you have a book about that?" As if there's a book that could possibly encompass what that child is feeling. But if there does exist, somewhere in the world, a book that could contain all that and more, Walk Two Moons is it.
This is not to say that Walk Two Moons is an exceptionally sad or depressing book. (Although, spoiler: I cried. I cry every time I read it.) This just not just another dead parent story. It's about life, and growing up, and the experience of being thirteen and kissing a boy for the first time, and moving, and friendship...and yes, it is about a dead parent. And in this aspect, at least, it is perfect.
Walk Two Moons is widely loved and beloved, and deservedly so. My copy is dog-eared and well-worn, and will be staying in my library forever. Highly, highly recommended for fans of realistic fiction, coming-of-age, road trips, and twisty plots. Also recommended for every human, everywhere.