Title: Same Sun Here
Author: Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: immigration, jobs, natural resources, human resources, poverty
Review: Middle school students Meena Joshi and River Dean Justice have never met in person, but they have become close friends through the letters they exchange in the pen-pal program arranged by their schools. Through these letters, Meena learned that River lives in a rural part of Kentucky that has been experiencing large-scale coal extraction through controversial mountaintop removal activities. River, in turn, found out that Meena and her immigrant family constantly face the risk of eviction from the tiny rent-controlled apartment they call home in New York City.
Despite the apparent differences in their living situations, Meena and River have discovered that they share several common characteristics, including deep loyalty to their family, a strong sense of social justice, and the willingness to take risks. Through their letters they encourage each other to use these traits to advocate for change in their own lives and those of their family members and friends.
Narrated through the alternating perspectives of the two main protagonists, this novel for middle grade readers offers a compelling account of the social impacts of some very real environmental and economic issues. Woven into the story are a number of important economic concepts, including migration to find job opportunities, the impact of rent control policies on property owner behaviors, and the consequences of natural resource extraction for local communities. Powerful lessons indeed, but made accessible through the lively narratives of the young protagonists.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children