Summary: Salamanca Tree Hiddle has a funny name and a not-so-funny life, both thanks to her mother. The story of Walk Two Moons takes place while Salamanca (she goes by Sal) is on a car trip with her grandparents. To pass the time, she tells a story to her grandparents and the reader. Even though the story is supposedly about her friend, it documents her own life, which goes like this. Her life was changed forever when her mom, Sugar, left to rethink her life – and never came back. Sal’s dad makes the decision to move out of their quaint farm. He can’t live in their house, where everything everywhere reminds him of Sugar. Much to Sal’s dismay, they move to a small neighborhood where she has to deal with new friends, her dad’s possible girlfriend, and bizarre situations such as the possibility that they might be living near an axe murderer. The book’s path switches back and forth between Sal’s past and present, so the reader has to piece together her entire history. You are finally led to what you have been wondering all along – why didn’t Sal’s mom come back? – and the truth hits you so hard it’s like being slapped across the face.
Recommendation: Throughout the story, Salamanca loses people she loves and things she treasures. Because of this, Walk Two Moons couldn’t be more different from The Castle Corona, the other book I reviewed by Sharon Creech. I found Walk Two Moons to be more tragic, have deeper undertones, and include more realistic characters. Whereas Corona was humorous and lighthearted, this book is filled with sorrow and keeps you thinking about it days afterwards. Don’t let me convince you that this book is only sad – even though it has more than its share of teary moments, it’s also full of hopeful, happy, and humorous times. Creech balances somber with optimistic in this gripping novel, and that is how she writes the message that the book sends. Although Creech never says it in these exact words, the message seems to be Dr. Seuss’s “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” As with other novels I’ve read, I could really connect the characters in this book to real life – the clueless teacher, the barely tolerable friend, and the crazy-in-a-good-way relative. No wonder it’s so easy to become attached to the characters in this book – which, unlike me, you shouldn’t do. Just don’t! You’ll see why.
Favorite Passage: “That day Mrs Cadaver was home puttering around her garden. […] Actually, puttering is not the best word. What she was doing was more like slogging and slashing. Mrs. Cadaver hacked branches off of trees and hauled these to the back of her lot where she lumped them into a pile of branches that she had hacked off last week.”