Written by Neela Vaswani
Illustrated by Hilary Schenker
Published by Candlewick Press
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.
Available As: Paperback, Audiobook
Chapter Book, Age 09 or older
Setting: United States (New York)
Character’s New Arrival/New American Status: Immigrant
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