Same Sun Here

( 7 )

Overview

In this extraordinary novel in letters, an Indian immigrant girl in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner's son find strength and perspective by sharing their true selves across the miles.

Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family ...

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Same Sun Here

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Overview

In this extraordinary novel in letters, an Indian immigrant girl in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner's son find strength and perspective by sharing their true selves across the miles.

Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River’s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and, as their camaraderie deepens, discovering common ground in their disparate experiences. With honesty and humor, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions. Narrated in two voices, each voice distinctly articulated by a separate gifted author, this chronicle of two lives powerfully conveys the great value of being and having a friend and the joys of opening our lives to others who live beneath the same sun.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Even better than reading a refreshingly honest story by one talented writer is reading one by two such writers. House and Vaswani alternate between the voices of Meena and River. The two connect as pen pals, and their letters reveal the unusual intersections and the stark contrasts in their lives... Readers will feel confident that their friendship will get them through whatever lies ahead.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This tender and breathtakingly honest story about unlikely friendships and finding common ground will captivate readers... In an era when social media permeates every area of our lives, Meena and River’s old-fashioned camaraderie through letters feels refreshing and true. Audiences will revel in this lovely story about a boy and girl who are not so different from one another after all.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Publishers Weekly
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.)
VOYA - Donna Miller
This is a touching tale of two young people from diverse backgrounds who develop a long-distance relationship as pen pals. Meena and River soon discover that the things that separate them are much less significant than the things they actually have in common. Although River's rural life in Tennessee is dramatically different from Meena's experience as an Indian immigrant in New York City's Chinatown, they quickly discover that they have two very important attributes in common; both have absent working fathers and a grandmother who is a beloved, stable figure, helping to shape their values and beliefs. As the two bridge cultural gaps and share details of their lives, it becomes apparent that they are indeed "kindred spirits" whose support and friendship become critical to their on-going growth and well-being. Unlike Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern (Hyperion, 2005) and other books that deal with friends or love interests who communicate virtually, this title does not feature characters who have already established relationships before they begin their correspondence. Additionally, Meena and River's correspondence quickly progresses from typical, trivial exchanges to intimate conversations in which they reveal their deepest feelings. Thus Same Sun Here takes a novel approach to this topic and reveals to young readers how authentic conversation and trust between human beings can bring them together despite all that divides them. Reviewer: Donna Miller
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Pen pals, Meena and River, become close friends as they discover similarities in their seemingly different lives. Meena is an Indian immigrant, living secretly in a New York City apartment with her parents and older brother. Through her letters, Meena shares with River the sounds and sights of life in the big city and also her affection for her grandmother still living in India. River returns her letters and writes about life in the coal mining region of Kentucky, where his town is facing a devastating mountaintop removal. The distance separating Meena and River makes writing about their fears and concerns easy, in a way, but their openness and honesty with one another also forges a strong bond between the two. River supports Meena when she shares the loss of her beloved grandmother, and Meena offers her support when River's friend is injured in a horrific accident. This story has great potential as a classroom novel, leading to discussions on the many cultural and demographic issues raised by the authors. Lyrically written in alternating letters, this inspirational novel is a true testament to the strength of friendship, no matter how far apart you may live. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—This tender and breathtakingly honest story about unlikely friendships and finding common ground will captivate readers. Writing beautifully in alternating voices, the authors introduce readers to Meena, a 12-year-old girl who recently immigrated with her family from Mussoorie, India, to New York City; and River, who lives with his mother and environmentalist grandmother in rural Kentucky. The 2008 U.S. presidential election serves as a momentous historical backdrop as the two youngsters become pen pals, bonding over shared experiences (deep relationships with their grandmothers, fathers who work away from home, and an abiding love of dogs), and opening each other's eyes to the vast cultural and social differences between them. As they navigate tragedy and confusion in their lives—Meena grieves over her grandmother's death and an environmental disaster wreaks havoc on River's community—the preteens find solace in one another. At one point they wonderingly speculate about a possible telepathic connection ("I believe I heard you say, River Dean Justice! It's me, Meena….' So I think we do have telepathy."). In an era when social media permeates every area of our lives, Meena and River's old-fashioned camaraderie through letters feels refreshing and true. While the conclusion seems slightly unfinished, audiences will revel in this lovely story about a boy and girl who are not so different from one another after all.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A very modern cross-cultural story narrated by way of an old-fashioned pen-pal correspondence. Meena, a new immigrant from India, lives in an illegal sublet in downtown Manhattan. River, who is of Irish extraction with a little Cherokee thrown in, resides in rural Kentucky. But their core experiences--living in the lower economic realm of the 99 percent, taking inspiration from their wise, nature-loving grandmothers, having fathers who work away from home and mothers who long for their husbands--are the same. During the course of the story, River becomes an environmental activist like his grandmother, trying to end a coal-mining technique that is polluting his community. Meena joins her school's drama club, becomes more Americanized and mourns the death of the beloved grandmother she left behind in India. The protagonists, who have clear individual voices, are an adult's dream--polite, literate, studious and hard working--but kids should like them as well and identify with their struggles. In time, they become each other's best friend and sounding board, supplying understanding and honest feedback. Because it's a slice of life, a textured, life-ways comparison, there's not a lot of narrative drive, and some arid patches may cause readers' attention to flag. Nonetheless, a finely detailed depiction of two separate worlds that demonstrates a deep well of shared humanity. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664510
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 137,889
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Silas House is the nationally best-selling author of Eli the Good as well as the award-winning novels Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and The Coal Tattoo. He is an associate professor at Berea College and lives in eastern Kentucky.

Neela Vaswani is the award-winning author of You Have Given Me a Country and Where the Long Grass Bends. Her work has received an American Book Award, an O. Henry Prize, and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award. She teaches at Spalding University’s MFA in writing program and is the founder of the Storylines Project with the New York Public Library. Neela Vaswani lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Not my favioret

    I had to read this book in school, and it was not my favioret. I did not like the ending. It was not that well witten

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Not my first choice.

    I had to read this for summer reading and it was ok. I did nit like the letter format and I foun the ending really bad.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    School assigned reading book for the Summer

    I havnt read this book yet but I will rate it completely once I finish reading this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    Amazing

    I loved the book I give it 5atars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Love Silas House

    Ok storyline not my favorite though of his work!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Ok book

    Incredibly interesting but confusing

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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