Same Sun Here
written and narrated by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Ⓟ 2012, Candlewick/Brilliance
5 hours, 47 minutes
Children, Ages 8-12
Same Sun Here is an epistolary novel featuring the correspondence between two 12-year old pen pals: Meena, an illegal immigrant girl from India living in a rent control apartment (without the landlord's knowledge or consent) in New York City and; River, a Kentucky boy from a rural coal mining area. Both first find common ground in their shared love of mountains, but their friendship grows as they promise to always write truthfully as to what their respective thoughts and feelings are.
Meena and River are both face challenges in their lives unique to their area: Meena lives a furtive life fearing eviction from her family's apartment while River's environment is being ruined by mountain top removal operations that threaten the health and safety of the area's inhabitants. What Meena and River have in common is having to confront the social injustices that force them into the role of victims. However, as Meena's parents patiently go through the steps of becoming U.S citizens and River's grandmother spearheads a grass roots movement to draw awareness to the coal mining company's devastation of the area, both kids are inspired to persevere in their own ways and find hope in their futures.
Same Sun Here is an excellent exposition of commonplace social inequity that infiltrates The Land of Opportunity and how, despite suffocating odds, small actions can provide the force for change. The letters are dated 2008-2009, which places the context of conditions during Obama's election campaign, victory and swearing-in to office. As such, there is a liberal flavor to the book, though there is no slamming of political conservatism or of Obama's political rivals.
The authors, Silas House and Neela Vaswani narrate their own work. Silas House has a voice that's a bit too mature to be playing that of a middle-grade student; but his native Kentuckian accent, his earnestness and, the fact that most kids don't care about the age of the narrator relative to the character, all work in his favor. Neela Vaswami has a girlish voice and her accented English poses no issue in terms of being understood. That said, young listeners may become confused without the visual prompts of the text to be able to distinguish between "Dadi" and "Daddy" and, what sounds like "Missouri" with what is actually "Massoorie." There are illustrations in the book, but the audio narrative does not suffer for not being able to display them.
Other Stuff: I purchased a digital dnload edition of Same Sun Here (written and narrated by Silas House and Neela Vaswani) from iTunes. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.
This is an Armchair Audies review :-)
Heidi's Armchair Audies Review of Same Sun Here (written and narrated by Silas House and Neela Vaswani) at Bunbury in the Stacks
My review of The Cheshire Cheese Cat (by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright; narrated by Katherine Kellgren and Robin Sachs) and
Heidi's review at Bunbury in the Stacks!
My review of Splendors and Glooms (by Laura Amy Schlitz; narrated by Davina Porter) and Heidi's Review of the same at Bunbury in the Stacks :-)