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)
A finely detailed description of two separate worlds that demonstrates a deep well of shared humanity.
Readers will be held by the kids’ challenges, along with the warm bond they share.
While at its heart a friendship story, this is also a celebration of writing, both as a means of processing emotions and as a vehicle for making the writer more observant of people and places, and both Meena and River come to appreciate and value the role the letter writing plays in their own lives over the course of their relationship. Readers who enjoy differing points of view will particularly enjoy this old-fashioned yet contemporary letter-writing exchange.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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.
Honest, poignant letters between two 12-year-old pen pals—one Kentucky born and raised, the other born in India and living in New York's Chinatown—demonstrate that the most important things in life are common among us all... A moving novel.
SAME SUN HERE by Silas House and Neela Vaswani is like a blast of air conditioning from an open door on a baking hot Manhattan day, at once refreshing, relieving, sweet and enlivening. With easy, commanding authority the authors wholly embody the voices of their two characters, far-flung pen pals River and Meena, delivering a story that wrenches the reader with its honesty, clarity and verve.
—The Rusty Key
Written for grades 5 and up, SAME SUN HERE tackles complex societal ills in a thoughtful, uplifting story frame that will captivate readers regardless of age.
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
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)