Upon first hearing of this book, I thought I would love it. Turns out, I wasn't quite that enamored of it, but it's still a solid 3-star book. It's a mostly sweet penpal correspondence between River, a boy in small town eastern Kentucky, and Meena, an immigrant Indian girl living in NYC.
I think this book would work equally well for boys or girls and its quiet lessons in multiculturalism would make this a good book for the classroom. There are also some good moments in environmentalism and activism that don't come across as particularly preachy. I think the two authors did a pretty good job sounding like the characters in their letters, something fairly difficult to sustain in an epistolary book without the prose coming across as too grown-up.
It's more difficult for me to connect with middle grade novels than with YA ones, and this one just didn't have a spark for me, but I can see this book's becoming a required summer read and gain semi-classic status. One of things I had a minor issue with was River's name. I grew up in the South, and River (and almost as frequently, Rivers) was always a girl's name, River Phoenix notwithstanding, so it was a bit hard adjusting to that. It would be like reading a book where Jeremy was the female protagonist. But I also heard from my colleague Marika that the two authors wrote the book as a series of letters back and forth to each other, which really appeals to me.
Same Sun Here is published by Candlewick this month and I received a free ARC at Winter Institute that I was lucky enough to get signed. It also qualifies as entries #7-8 in my New Authors challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism (I think that counts as two since I'd read neither of these authors before).It also qualifies for my South Asia challenge hosted every year by S. Krishna.