There have been a lot of inflammatory commentary this last year and specifically the last few months; which inspired me to go back to an old favorite, Walk Two Moons.
Sometimes it helps to read a book where the main character is going through a period of grief and figuring out life, where the story is an easy narrative to read with a story within a story.
The story follows Salamanaca (Sal) Tree Hiddle and two adventures she is living; a road trip with her grandparents and life with her friends in the city of Euclid, OH. Sal is on her way to see her mother and her Gram and Gramps are driving her there on the same path her mom took to Lewiston, ID. Gram requests a story and Sal decides to tell the tale of her friendship with Phoebe Winterbottom. Traveling from Euclid to Lewiston is going to take six days giving plenty of time for an entire year of stories to be told while new ones come to be.
This is a coming to age story as well as accepting reality.
One of the things that struck me while reading this book again is the fact the characters all have an idea of how they should act and try to keep that face for people. For some this means their family has to be perfect, for others it means not bringing up the past, parents are always there, and no one has died. Page by page the illusions that have been built up and accepted a truth change and are broken. Perceptions of people are revealed to be false and the love that families have for each other ebbs and grows stronger.
Gram and Gramps are a great comedic relief while acting as therapists for Sal as she figures out her own struggle.
They are a couple who know who they are and that the sorrows of life can’t keep you down if you don’t let them. They are the people who are in your life to encourage you to constructively talk about your feelings and what is going on in your life. Gram and Gramps keep you focused on moving forward while taking time to see new sights and feel new things.
Phoebe has a perception that her family is perfect and when things aren’t exactly how she wants them to be she panics and throws a wall up so no one knows what is going on. She has a wild imagination that tends to think the worst in people and sees the differences in her friends’ upbringing as inferior.
If you need a break from negative media and social media posts I fully recommend this Newbery winner as an escape-to be honest I always recommend reading as a break.
This particular book will remind you of the importance to learn the full truth before making judgments, the simple complexity of growing up, and that sometimes we just need to look around to realize everyone is going through something.
As the book says,
“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”