Walk Two Moons is a Newbery Award winning novel by Sharon Creech. Since it was written in 1994, there is a good chance that today's middle grade readers (ages 8-12) have not read it. This proved to be the case with my 6th grade students.
The unique thing that I love about Walk Two Moons is that it has a parallel plot. The story's narrator is thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, Sal for short. Sal is on a cross country trip with her rather quirky grandparents in order to find her mother, who left her and her father.
The book begins with the trip and her grandparents, gram and gramps, asking her to "spin us a yarn." Sal then begins the tale of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom. Phoebe has a wild imagination, to say the least. Phoebe's story is made up of a "stiff" family with a great fear of cholesterol and mismatched plates. But, there are also potential lunatics and murderers running amok. Then, Phoebe's tale takes a turn that no one saw coming, a turn with which Sal is all too familiar.
As the very tightly woven plot unfolds, there are moments that run the entire emotional scale. You will genuinely laugh and cry as these girls realistically go through trials in life, with the reader being able to find similarities between Sal's story and Phoebe's.
The ending of Sal's story is very emotionally charged. I can't say that it is entirely a surprise, since, as an adult reader, I caught the foreshadowing hints. However, I know of some adults who have read it that did not see it coming. The majority of my students did not see it coming either. Regardless of whether you figure it out or not, the description of the events will have you on the edge of your seat.
I should note that while the suggested age range for this book is eight through twelve, I would not personally recommend it for average children younger than age ten. I read it with my sixth graders and that is the youngest grade level that I would feel comfortable reading it with as a teacher. There are some very emotionally charged moments that younger readers may not yet be able to quite manage processing. I would recommend that parents of younger children, or especially sensitive children, read the book first to determine when it would be appropriate for their children to read the book. But, it is so well written, that I believe it is a must read. But, younger children may have more questions than older children. So, parents should be aware of the plot twists. If you're looking for one more stocking stuffer or Christmas gift, I'd recommend this book.
If you are interested, click here to see the review from Common Sense Media.