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Walk Two Moons
by Sharon Creech
The 1995 Newbery Medal winner is part mystery, part family drama, with a gentle philosophical heart and a conclusion in which an ample supply of Kleenex is advised.
Salamanca Tree Hiddle is a 13-year-old girl, distantly related (on her mothers side) to Native Americans. She doesnt understand why her mother has gone away and doesnt believe that she isnt going to come back. But her father, an awfully good man, is pretty sure. So they move from their idyllic Kentucky farm to a colorless town in northern Ohio, where Dad seems to have hooked up with a girlfriend who, creepily enough, is named Mrs. Cadaver.
Sal doesnt want to face any of this right now, so the woes of her school friend Phoebe become a welcome distraction, especially when Phoebes perfect, upright family is thrown into confusion by her mothers mysterious disappearance. Plus, someone is leaving cryptic messages on Phoebes porch, a potential lunatic keeps approaching her on the street, and Mrs. Cadaver (who lives next door to Phoebe) seems to be conspiring with her weird English teacher, Mr. Birkway–possibly burying murder victims in the backyard.
How this mystery develops forms the material of a story Sal narrates to her grandparents, as they drive to Idaho so Sal can visit her mother and see once and for all if they can bring her home again. And as she tells the story of Phoebe and her missing mother, Sal realizes that her own story–hers and her mothers–lies behind it; and in an equally moving way, so does the story of her grandparents 51-year love affair.
I wont disguise from you that I thought I saw whodunit coming from a long way away. Yet even when I turned out to be right, the effect when the mystery was unveiled was like a punch in the gut. This novel has a complexity and elegance far above what one finds in most childrens literature. But its sweetness, its touch of romance, its air of spookiness, its heartache and its hope make such a strong, rich brew, that I think it will hold your attention riveted right to the last page.