I re-read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech for this month’s Newbery Through the Decades challenge. I had vague memories of reading it years ago, and I did remember the general outline of the plot. However, both the details and the theme were mostly lost to me. I finished the book not ten minutes ago in tears. Wow. What a story.
Walk Two Moons is a quest story. Thirteen year old Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Sal) is on a cross-country trip with her grandparents to find her mother. Her whole family, including her grandparents, had lived in Kentucky up until just after her mother’s disappearance. Gram and Gramps are taking Sal to her mother’s apparent destination of Idaho. Along the way she tells them a story about her new life in Ohio. As she tells them the story of the disappearance of her friend Phoebe’s mother, she realizes that her own story is “hidden” under Phoebe’s story, and we have the unfolding as Sal shares her story with her grandparents.
Quirky is the best word I can use to describe this story. Sal’s grandparents are a little eccentric (perhaps?) but very likable. Her grandfather uses all sorts of what I must assume is meant to be regional slang. He calls Sal his chickabiddy and her grandmother his gooseberry. Sal herself also speaks this way just a little. The characterization is well done and makes the story very enjoyable.
All I can say about this story’s theme without giving too much away is that it is all about grief, its effects, and acceptance. It’s also about the mother-child relationships and families. Sal comes to realize that everything that happened with her mother is not her fault. Her self-awareness grows as she tells Phoebe’s story.
I really love this book, though there are things about it that discerning readers might find problematic: Sal prays to the trees (because she can see them and can’t see God), there is some talk about Native American beliefs, and there is a romantic element between Sal and her friend Ben. Overall, though, I think the message of this story is heart-wrenching, beautiful, therapeutic, and wortshile. Highly, Highly Recommended.