Even better than reading a refreshingly honest story by one talented writer is reading one by two such writers. House (Eli the Good) and adult author Vaswani (Where the Long Grass Bends) alternate between the voices of Meena—a 12-year-old girl who lives with her recently immigrated Indian family in New York City—and River, who lives with his environmental activist grandmother in rural Kentucky. The two connect as pen pals, and their letters reveal the unusual intersections (like okra) and the stark contrasts in their lives. 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. Ages 9–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011 Release date: 02/14/2012 Genre: Children's
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