GEORGE ELIOT LITERARY SOCIETY
BOOK REVIEW – WALK TWO MOONS
By Annamarie Davidson
Welcome to the first book review of the George Eliot Literary Society.
Why name a book review column about women writers after a dead guy named George? Well, George Eliot, one of the most prominent authors of the 19th century, had a secret: “his” real name was Marian Evans. Yep, Marian. And she pretended to be a man because back then, women writers were not taken seriously.
I take women writers seriously. Thus, the reason for starting this book review.
I have always been a reader. For me, a lot of books, especially with female main characters, fall short. There is more to life than a story about a magical princess dancing with a guy for one night, wedding bells, and then happy ending. I’ve always sought out books that revealed heroines as humans and inspire me to become better.
And I think I’m a better female protagonist in my own life from learning through the experiences of strong women, written by strong women. The George Eliot Literary Society is homage to George Eliot/Marian Evans, and all other strong women out there.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.
Back when I was eleven, my dear friend Marina was my Amazon “You Might Also Like” section, my Netflix “Recommendations For You,” and my Bright Lite Magazine all rolled into one.
She would read or watch something, I’d read or watch it, and then we’d discuss. Marina lent me Walk Two Moons. But she never got it back.* Maybe because my tears stained the pages. I dropped it in the bathtub (twice). The warped, yellowed paper and jacket barely looked like a book. I also chain-read it. Yep, I read the whole book. Shut it. Opened it. And read it all over.
Reading Walk Two Moons as an adult could go two ways. Biased by my former love, or jaded by my current life? I jumped into a bathtub with Walk Two Moons once again, to find out.
This Newberry Award Winning book follows thirteen-year-old Salamanca Hiddle on a cross-country road trip with her grandparents. As they begin driving, her Gramps asks Sal to spin a yarn to pass the time.
Here, the book splits off into three stories. First is Sal’s story of her missing mother and the aftermath of her disappearance. Next, the almost fairytale-like story of her grandparents’ courtships. Last, she tells them a story about her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, Phoebe’s missing mother, and a mysterious “lunatic.”
Walk Two Moons is named for the Cheyenne proverb: “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins,” and besides the quote being one of several mysterious messages left on Phoebe’s doorstep, it also serves as a central theme of the book. The parallel is obvious between Phoebe and Sal, who both have missing mothers. By Sal sharing more about the disappearance of Phoebe’s mom, she explores her own feelings about hers. But further than that, Creech creates three-dimensional characters— masterfully and purposefully— that are never just one thing. And the first impressions you have of almost everyone, even the protagonist, end up being wrong.
I’m always less into escapism and more about what a book teaches me about myself and others. And Walk Two Moons focuses on empathy, the complexity of love, how life isn’t easy, and neither is being good, things we can all relate to.
What Creech does beautifully is to explore the mystery of a person’s life after they are gone; like scattered puzzle pieces fit together without a reference photo or straight edges.
Filled with enigma, sorrow, and humor, Walk Two Moons has a hint of Native American folklore dashed with a modern tale of loss and finding yourself.
Read this book if you like:
The friendship in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson,
the mystery of the The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and/or
the Native American themes of The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.
Things I liked:
The stories within the story always kept me flipping to the next chapter.
Things I loved:
The characters were vivid, interesting, and managed to avoid clichés.
Things I didn’t like:
Not much. I think Creech’s creativity sometimes got the best of her, creating such outlandish tales and people that aren’t always 100% believable. I understand the whole point of Walk Two Moons was to see the parallels of people’s lives, but it was a little too coincidental that Sal and Phoebe both had mothers who left without explanation.
Things I hated:
None. Well, one plot point, that I won’t reveal. But the fact that I hated it meant Sharon Creech did her job well.
“It seems to me that we can’t explain all the truly awful things in the world like war and murder and brain tumors, and we can’t fix these things, so we look at the frightening things that are closer to us and we magnify them until they burst open. Inside is something that we can manage, something that isn’t as awful as it had a first seemed. It is a relief to discover that although there might be axe murderers and kidnappers in the world, most people seem a lot like us: sometimes afraid and sometimes brave, sometimes cruel and sometimes kind.”
Would I recommend:
Official George Eliot Literary Society rating:
Girl power: 7.5
Ineffable Feelings: 10
I enjoyed Walk Two Moons as much as I did when I was eleven. The story is told with such honesty, it still rang true. In the end, it felt like I was having a long conversation with a wise old friend. And I only dropped half of the edges in the bathtub.
Have you read Walk Two Moons? Let me know what you thought below:
*Marina, if you are reading this review,
yes, I’m aware,
I still owe you a book.