It is easy to see why this book was selected as a Newberry Medal winner (1995). A bittersweet story of family and friendship, home and adapting to a new normal.
The book is not without its problems; the main character Salamanca Tree Hiddle prays to trees and on a number of occasions the character development suffers as the 13-year old girls act and talk more like 10-year old girls. About halfway through it may be tempting to write it off as another melancholy angst-ridden tale like those that are currently so popular with teens. However, don’t stop reading! This story has an ending that had me crying like a little girl — but in a good way. Stick with it and you will be rewarded.
I highly recommend the book, but with the following caveat – adults need to read the book if their children are reading it and be prepared to discuss some of the topics covered in this sophisticated plot-line; abandonment, death, grief, boy-girl relationships and dating, openness and honesty between children and parents – and, of course, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
I encourage Christian parents to challenge their young reader to be analytical about the story resolution as it is depicted in the book. Ask your young’un how and why a Christian might approach the situation differently. Discussing that question alone is reason enough for both parent and child to invest the time in reading this enjoyable and provocative tale.