Same Sun Here

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But I, ever the optimist, would like to believe that they did and they sent each other long, scrawled letters to each other with about how much fun they had when they met up. I know I went a bit off topic up there, but this book has inspired to make the effort to write more letters to all my kindred spirits scattered across the globe.

On real writing paper.

Book Review: Same Sun Here, by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

And maybe written in fountain pen. Whoops] Recommended For. People who want to read a book about contemporary issues. People who wished they had a pen pal when they were in school. People who wish they could look out of their window and see mountains. People who like to scream at the top of their lungs at passing trains. People who believe that kindred spirits are telepathic. People who can believe that S.

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E Hinton is a girl and that she wrote a book because girls can do anything. People who wish Kentucky was a shape better suited to cutting it out of toast. People who will join me in my pledge to write more letters. It seems like so many of us live far away from where we were born. You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here. View all 18 comments. Oct 25, Paul Hankins rated it it was amazing Shelves: middle-grade-memorable-writing , young-adult-loss-and-grief-healing , january , friends-in-the-business , middle-grade-touching , mr-hankins-says-don-t-miss , epistolary-novel , young-adult-multicultural , young-adult-social-issues , young-adult-issue-don-t-miss.

What kind of genre is necessary to demonstrate that two characters--despite their differences in nationality and identity--share some of the same celebrations? The same concerns? The same worries? The same sun? Epistolary, of course. And here, Silas House and Neela Vaswani create a memorable relationship--carried by letters written back and forth--between R What kind of genre is necessary to demonstrate that two characters--despite their differences in nationality and identity--share some of the same celebrations?

And here, Silas House and Neela Vaswani create a memorable relationship--carried by letters written back and forth--between River, a teen from Kentucky, and Meena, a young Hindi girl living in New York City. In their exchanges we see a character arc come through for each with room to grow on both sides and on the inside of both. Aside from the letters written back and forth, River and Meena provide younger readers with information about Kentucky and New York City that would ordinarily be handled in the narrative.

It's masterful here, though, with each character playing "Did you know? Citizenship Test that Meena's parents are trying to pass as part of the story. Relationships between River and his grandmother and Meena and her older neighbor play out beautifully in the letters back and forth.

River gets a chance to talk about mining and mountain top removal. Citizenship Disasters Related to Mining and many, many more. I could see this title being stretched out over the course of a year with younger readers and writers hearing the story in installments which might allow for their own correspondence back and forth with River and Meena through a writing strategy called thought capture.

View all 5 comments. Nov 30, Sasha rated it it was amazing. This book was so special to me! Growing up and raising my own family in Eastern Kentucky, it is incredibly refreshing and encouraging to read a work that paints us as many of us are; multifaceted, empowered, passionate, and something much more than "hillbillies looking for handouts. This book is no different. This is an epistolary novel, showcasing letters written between two twelve year olds that b This book was so special to me!

This is an epistolary novel, showcasing letters written between two twelve year olds that become pen-pals: River, from the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Kentucky, and Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City. They almost immediately make a pact to be their "own true selves" with one another, even when it's uncomfortable. In doing so, they learn so much about one another's cultures, about the wider world around them, and about how we are all not-so-different after all.

Both Meena and River are living without their fathers due to economic hardship, both have grandmothers that they idolize, and both are adolescents, just trying to figure out what's going on inside and how that impacts the way they view the world. This book touches on so much that resonated deeply with me: the state of the precious Appalachian mountains and the plight of those that live near MTR sites, condemning racism and homophobia, having a curious mind and an open heart when learning about new cultures, and learning about the importance of non-violent civil disobedience.

Same Sun Here by Sameed Ahmed on Prezi

This book highlights the fact that sometimes it is the small, brave acts that make the biggest impact. I can't say enough good things. Once again, Silas House has lovingly painted an accurate portrait of living in Appalachia, and Neela Vaswani has interwoven a surprisingly parallel experience as an immigrant in New York City. My students will love this, because it is respectfully, meticulously them.

I'm beginning to think that I don't just occasionally enjoy middle grade books, but I might legitimately love it as a genre. I keep reading middle grade books or younger YA books that I think are the exception to the rule. But not everything can be the exception. Same Sun Here is a delightful story, innocent and youthful.

Its the tale of two pen pals. Meena was born in India but currently living in New York City. River is from rural Eastern Kentucky. Though the county is supposedly fictionalized I'm beginning to think that I don't just occasionally enjoy middle grade books, but I might legitimately love it as a genre. Though the county is supposedly fictionalized, it's pretty much London KY. The Dairy Dart reference gives it away. Letters can be lovely or tedious. Same Sun Now is maybe the best pen pal story that I've ever read at least the best in a long time.

The letters feel real, using lots of exclamation points and loooooooooots of silly antics people use when writing letters, while still maintaining readability. Because of the co-authoring of this book both characters have distinct voices. I looked up where you were born online and it's cool because the mountains there look so much like mine, with pine trees and everything.

I always expected India to only have big palm trees for some reason. I've never been to the city but she gives it both personality and problems. She'll talk about the subway, buying mangos on a stick from a stand, but also rent controlled apartments and evil landlords. Often I feel like New York is either idealized or criminalized in stories. This was a nice mix. River is a country boy. His childhood sounds a bit like mine, playing in the creek, roaming the woods and climbing trees. His mamaw is a political activist, something that I think is a rarity in Kentucky.

I know Silas House's politics and I feel like he's a little heavy handed with them in this novel. For me that's the biggest flaw in this book. It can't just be a cute story about two kids who find out they have more in common than different. It has to become an issue book about mountaintop removal. I've been open about how I'm sensitive about the portrayal of Appalachians and the complicated relationship we have with coal.

House does a much better job of handling the issue than the The Evening Hour an adult novel set in WV that I recently reviewed. He at least acknowledges that within Appalachia there are two sides. But after a cursory nod to the other side, he makes his opinion very obvious. What I like is the two characters with contrasting lives and cultures. For me that's beautiful and works so well. But near the end of the book it comes more about the issue of coal than the characters of Meena and River. Overall I liked this book. But I started out absolutely loving and my love waned. Sometimes that's the worst feeling with a book.

Still it's a delightful book about two kindred spirits, finding friendship despite their differences. On a related note this book gave me an interesting conundrum and I'm curious to see other people's opinions. Near the end there's a scene where River meets the governor of Kentucky. However, rather than using the real governors name they had a fictionalized governor. Does this bother anyone else? It really bothered me. It felt contrived because it took me out of the story. There are books that are just so readable. It feels so pleasant reading them, and this is definitely one of those books!!

It wasn't a complicated story, or a awfully intense one, but I was still so immersed and so in love with it. As someone who keeps in touch with far-off friends through letters. As someone who has found one of their most dear friendships through GR messaging, this book was really special to me. All those re There are books that are just so readable. All those reasons made me appreciated it all the more! How I loved River and Meena and their letters to each other. I loved how honest they were, and I adored watching their friendship grow.

Real Rating: 3. It was a really quick and easy read, and I enjoyed it. Same Sun Here is a beautiful book told entirely in letters between two pen pals. It deals with some heavy social justice themes, but does so without being too heavy-handed. This is one of those special books that hovers over the line between middle grade and young adult. I highly recommend the audiobook. Both authors narrate and Silas House has one of the most soothing voices I have ever listened to. Every once in a great while I find cause to pick up a book I know little to nothing about and am fortunate enough to be utterly charmed.

Same Sun Here was one of two Audie nominees for Middle Graders that I was unfamiliar with, and yet I am happy to see it in such good company. For some inexplicable reason, I have shied away from doing epistolary novels via audio. Of course a book featuring letters sent back and forth between two young people would be best told audibly by two narrators. But, what you loose in visual formatting you gain in audible; each of the authors is able to perfectly embody the characters they narrate, Neela Vaswani capturing young Meena with her Indian-born English, and Silas House bringing River to life, a boy from the mountains of Kentucky.

The way each talks is such an important facet of the story and overcoming assumptions that being able to hear how these characters talk affects the story more deeply than seeing their writing ever could. And thus, we must talk about the story. Same Sun Here captures the unique lives of two young people who have, through school programs, become pen-palls.

Old-school letter writing pen-pals in a day and age when e-mail would be the go-to route for almost every child.

Their choice to sit down and write or type letters that are sent through the post immediately clues us into the reality that Meena and River are not your average American tweens. Consequently, there is a bit of a riff in her family, who are studying to become American while living illegally in a rent-controlled apartment in Chinatown. River is concerned with mining practices in his area and the affects they have on the environment, and is feeling stifled in an area where traits like racism and close-mindedness are prevalent.

Same Sun Here is one of those rare books that manages to carry meaningful messages without the frying pan affect. The political beliefs of the authors are obvious, but they do attempt to show that there are various sides to the issues raised most predominantly coal mining, but also issues like immigration , which I appreciate. Quite frankly, Same Sun Here is a story that could influence the lives of countless readers for the better. It promotes the notion of opening your heart and mind to those who live differently from yourself, reminding us that we are all, when you get to the heart of it, just people.

Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks.


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Sep 06, Sandy rated it it was ok Shelves: friendship , juvenile-fiction , poc , diary-or-letters , alternating-viewpoints. This was a nice book and everything, but I got crabby every time something political came up. Unfortunately, that was quite often. I'm totally fine with lessons in social responsibility and being good to your neighbor or even references to specific historic political events, but it seemed to me that these authors had a clear political agenda.

Only one end of the political spectrum was ever mentioned and it was brougt up repeatedly and only in glowing terms. I don't care what political party you This was a nice book and everything, but I got crabby every time something political came up. I don't care what political party you belong to; it's not cool to preach politics to children via literature. It made me very uncomfortable. And the thing is, the plot of the story could have functioned perfectly well without the political posturing.

There was no terribly compelling reason for it to be present other than as a sounding board for the authors' own beliefs. Then again, maybe I'm just so sick of "listening" to my friends and family rant about politics on Facebook that my opinions on the matter are skewed. But if you can look past the politics this is a pretty good story about two pen pals who seem very different at first but find that they actually have a lot in common. And the writing is solid, even if I don't think the characters' voices are terribly realistic for their age.

Would normally give this book 3 stars thanks to the writing, but I can't ignore my own personal dislike for the book in my rating.


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View all 3 comments. Apr 16, The Rusty Key rated it it was amazing. Reviewed by Jordan B. Nielsen Recommended for: Both boys and girls ages 10 and Up for discussion of racism, troubled family life and general maturity of themes. The narrative is split between a male and female character making it relatable to either gender. One Word Summary: Ebullient. 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 authori Reviewed by Jordan B. 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. Told as a series of letters, and a few emails, Same Sun Here is the story of two utterly different lives joined by a common spirit and a class project.

Though he adores his Mawmaw, River longs for the time when his family was whole and everyone was happy. Thousands of miles north in New York City, Meena Joshi is an Indian immigrant squatting in a one-bedroom apartment with her parents and brother in Chinatown. With the historic election of Barack Obama ahead of them, conversations about race seem to touch everyone, particularly Meena and River. Through their letters, which span the course of ten months, we learn of both the large and small-scale problems that are shaping each of their worlds. In New York, Meena and her parents are applying for American citizenship.

Though excited by the opportunities that her new country has to offer, Meena is homesick for her lush town in India, and for her grandmother who was left behind. At every turn the culture of America seems to reject her, as ignorant strangers accuse her of being a terrorist, and the hovering landlord applies cruel tactics to push her and her neighbors out of their rent controlled apartments. Even at home Meena feels out of place as she begins to question how her parents could have just left her in India for so many years.

As dramatic and fascinatingly nuanced as those plot points are, the heart of the story and what makes Same Sun Here so successful is the relationship that develops between River and Meena. Against this socio-political backdrop, they are just two kids trying to figure it all out. Each feels like an outsider in their own way, but through their letters they find commonality in their shared curiosity about one another and the world around them. Well, nearly free from judgment. Meena does attempt to tell River about the first time she shaved her legs which River was none to thrilled to read about, a segment that elicits some good laughs.

As letters, the story is obviously written in the first person, alternating between the two perspectives and the authors must be commended for the voicing of the two characters, which are richly real and never falter. These feel like letters from children, full of poor grammar and slang and the kind of well-meaning bluntness you can only find in people of this age.

An instant entrant into our Golden Key Collection, Same Sun Here is a celebration of our diversity and the human capacity to find commonality over any divide. For more reviews, author interviews, reading lists, and feature articles from The Rusty Key, visit us at www. View 2 comments. Sweet and heartwarming while delivering several important messages. Two twelve-year-olds bridge their very different worlds as pen pals: Meena, an immigrant girl from India living in New York City, and River, the son of a coal miner in eastern Kentucky. It's categorized as a middle school book but older teens and adults will like it as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Apr 17, Teresa rated it really liked it Shelves: ya , read-harder-challenge. This is an adorable little epistolary novel, and a quick read. I can't remember who recommended this little middle grade novel probably Book Riot but I'm glad I picked it up. Apr 28, Erin Schyck rated it really liked it. Made me want to write letters. Man do I miss KY. Nov 23, Jenny rated it it was amazing. Amazing and funny and uplifting, despite some tough situations. I would like to give this book as a gift. Jun 21, Alex not a dude Baugh rated it really liked it Shelves: randomly-reading.

From the publisher: 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. 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 From the publisher: 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.

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. In this extraordinary novel in two voices, 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.

My Thoughts: In a world that has become suspicious of those who don't look like ourselves, Same Sun Here is a refreshing look at what can be - that as we get to know other, who were are inside takes precedence over what we look like. What an important lesson Meena and River teach us. Written in epistolary form, the novel enables the to experience these two different characters simultaneously, as they get to know and trust each other. Here are two kids, both of whom do not have personal computers at their disposal, which alone tells something of their economic circumstances, and they must rely on good old fashion letter writing, at least most of the time.

They do resort to email exchanged from a school and public library computer as the story progresses and their lives head in crisis mode. Right from the start, pen-pals Meena and River agree to be their own true self with each other in their letters. As they write back and forth, and get to know each other better, this agreement sometimes leads to arguments, soul-bearing and the start of a deepening friendship. And eventually, Meena and River are comfortable enough with each other to reveal their inner most thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears in their letters, thing that they may never have said face to face to anyone else.

The letter writing format allows the kids to cover a diverse number of topics, including economic hardship, political decisions, and bigotry and to talk about the direct impact they have on the lives of Meena and River's families. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. No institutional affiliation. LOG IN. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. House, Silas. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE. Additional Information.