Amazon describes Newberry award winning Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech this way:
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the “Indian-ness in her blood,” travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a “potential lunatic,” and whose mother disappeared.
As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.
Though we have only read the first fifteen chapters this week, this summary has set up the plot well. The writing is beautiful and worthy of winning an award. As Sal is telling the story, I get a strong sense of her voice and the way she is trying to make sense of her world.
Thus far we know that her mom is gone (I’m guessing she’s dead, are you? And I’m guessing she left home because of the death of Sal’s unborn brother. What I’m not sure is, why that town in Idaho or why she died. I could also be WRONG.). Salamanca Tree Hiddle—aka Sal—has moved up north to be near what seems to be a new girl friend (Margaret Cadaver) and she is trying to deal with grief and building a new life.
Themes I’ve noticed in the first 15 chapters:
- Grief—clearly as Sal is grieving leaving her home and town she loved, as well as the absence of her mom
- Strong family—Sal references both sets of grandparents still being married and her dad is invested in Sal
- Importance of roots—as Sal finds herself uprooted and making new friends
- The power of story—as the story weaves back and forth between Phoebe and Sal
Questions I have thus far:
- What has happened to Sal’s mom?
- Why didn’t her dad come on the road trip?
- Who is leaving notes at—is it Mary Lou or Phoebe’s—house?
- What trouble are the journals going to cause?!
Lines I really liked:
- “Just over a year ago, my father plucked me up like a weed and took me and all of our belongings (no, that is not true—he did not bring the chestnut tree, the willow, the maple, the hayloft, or the swimming hole which belonged to me.)” I love how Sal touches on the deeper aspect of her belongings.
- “The reason that Phoebe’s story reminds me of that plaster wall and the hidden fireplace is that beneath Phoebe’s story was another one. Mine.” So true! Often I understand my own story/life and I am telling someone else’s.
- “I was only thirteen, and although I did have a way with maps, it was not really because of that skill I was going [on the road trip], nor was it to see the ‘whole ding-dong country’ that Gram and Gramps were going. The real reasons were buried beneath piles and piles of unsaid things.” Ah yes, often reasons for doing something are complex and “buried beneath piles of unsaid things.
- “I certainly do know heaps of stories, but I learned most of them from Gramps. Gram suggested I tell one about my mother. That I could not do. I had just reached the point where I could stop thinking about her every minute of every day.” The line “that I could not do.” So honest. So true in grief.
- “It is surprising all the things you remember just by eating a blackberry pie”. It is amazing how powerfully some memories return through our senses. I enjoyed getting a sense of Sal’s family when it was the three of them!
- “I had not said anything about what had happened the day before—about being scared down to my very bones when I thought they had left me. I don’t know what came over me. Ever since my mother left us that April day, I suspected that everyone was going to leave, one by one.” Doesn’t your heart just melt for kids who have experienced loss? Even “normal” loss of a parent getting ill, dying, or needing to move. Nothing violent or war torn, still, the tears and rips for the child are deep and real.
- “Later that afternoon when Phoebe and I went downstairs, Mrs. Winterbottom was talking with Prudence [Phoebe’s mother and sister]. ‘Do you think I lead a tiny life?’ she asked. . . . All the way home I wondered about Mrs. Winterbottom and what she meant about having a tiny life.” I think we can all relate. I know at times I have wondered if I was leading a tiny life.
The road trip and stories will continue! Was your family the kind that stopped and looked at signs about monuments and historical places? Or did you keep stops to a minimum? (My dad was famous for wanting us in and out of a rest stop in the fastest time possible :)).
What have you noticed about Sal? What do you think about Phoebe, her family, and the other characters? Who are you most drawn to? Enough! See you in the comments!
P.S. Next week we will read chapters 16-29, and finish the book the week after that. On my blog I shared the 17 best books I read in 2017 (Several were book club reads!)