Same Sun HereSame Sun Here
By Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Illustrated by Hilary Schenker
Published by Candlewick Press

“This tender and breathtakingly honest story about unlikely friendships and finding common ground will captivate readers…audiences will revel in this lovely story about a boy and girl who are not so different from one another after all.” –Lalitha Nataraj, School Library Journal

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Description

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. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. The unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts on their lives and, as their friendship deepens, on larger issues such as activism, immigration, racism, and prejudice. Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams, faces harassment by a landlord, and experiences the death of Meena’s grandmother in India, while River s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, propelling him into a protest march and confrontation with the governor. This glimpse into the lives of two very different youths who find common ground in their everyday lives makes bold statements about cultural misconceptions, the power and powerlessness of the individual and community, and the great value of being and having a friend.

Reviews & Accolades
2013 Nautilus Book Award Winner for Middle Grade and Teen Fiction

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…the preteens find solace in one another…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.” –Lalitha Nataraj, School Library Journal

[Meena and River] connect as pen pals, and their letters reveal the unusual intersections (like okra) and the stark contrasts in their lives. The preteens reflect on everything from prejudice and religion to politics and music, but their voices are so open, true, and even humorous that the story never feels heavy or preachy… Meena and River don’t have all their troubles worked out by book’s end, but readers will feel confident that their friendship will get them through whatever lies ahead.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“This is a touching tale of two young people from diverse backgrounds who develop a long-distance relationship as pen pals. Meena and River soon discover that the things that separate them are much less significant than the things they actually have in common…As the two bridge cultural gaps and share details of their lives, it becomes apparent that they are indeed “kindred spirits” whose support and friendship become critical to their on-going growth and well-being…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.” –Donna Miller, VOYA

Pen pals, Meena and River, become close friends as they discover similarities in their seemingly different lives…This story has great potential as a classroom novel, leading to discussions on the many cultural and demographic issues raised by the authors. Lyrically written in alternating letters, this inspirational novel is a true testament to the strength of friendship, no matter how far apart you may live.” –Jody Little, Children’s Literature

“A very modern cross-cultural story narrated by way of an old-fashioned pen-pal correspondence…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…a finely detailed depiction of two separate worlds that demonstrates a deep well of shared humanity.” –Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Indian American
Irish American
Chinese American

Themes
Multicultural friendship, family relationships, family death, immigration, community

Setting
New York City
Kentucky

Author Research
TBA

Engagement Projects
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