Walk Two Moons
You've found your way to a fantastically delicious story. Walk Two Moons is a mystery, a quest, a love story, and a portrait of America all rolled into one. Our awesome narrator is a girl named Salamanca Tree Hiddle. Sal goes on a six-day road trip with her grandparents to find her mother in Idaho. While on the road, she entertains her grandparents with a story about her friend Phoebe and Phoebe's missing mother. Gradually, Phoebe's story and her own story come together. Lunatics, snakes, kissing – this book has it all.
Sharon Creech wrote Walk Two Moons in 1994. The following year it won the super big-time Newbery Medal, which is an award many Young Adult writers dream of winning. She originally thought Walk Two Moons would be a "follow-up" to another book she had written called Absolutely Normal Chaos,which is about Mary Lou Finney (one of Sal's friends in this book). As she was writing, a new idea hatched – Phoebe Winterbottom. Phoebe came to life and started to take over the story.
Then something curious happened. Sharon Creech found a fortune cookie:
I had discovered a fortune cookie message in the bottom of my purse and the message was: "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins." I realized that everything that I was trying to say in this book had to do with that message; that you need to get to know someone well before you form an opinion about them, and in a way, that's what we writers are doing every day with our characters. So I liked the parallel there. (Source.)
Thanks to this fortune cookie that magically appeared in the bottom of Sharon Creech's purse, an entirely different story – Sal Hiddle's – came to life. So what happened to Mary Lou Finney and Phoebe? Creech tells us, "I was too stubborn to throw away the earlier drafts with Mary Lou Finney and Phoebe Winterbottom, so they found their way into this new draft, along with Ben, the lunatic, Mr. Birkway, Margaret Cadaver, and Mrs. Partridge" (source). And we're glad they did.
We bet you're thinking right about now, quirky characters and a road trip? Sounds like a recipe for an awesome movie. Shmoop totally agrees. Unfortunately, though, no movie has been made, and there doesn't appear to be one in the works. Although Walk Two Moons hasn't yet been made into a movie, that hasn't stopped fans from making their own film versions. You can spend an entire afternoon on YouTube watching these homemade movies. There must be something special about Walk Two Moons that makes everyone want to tell their own version of it. But don't take our word for it, check it out.
Why Should I Care?
What do you do when things aren't easy to understand? Like when someone is mean to you, or when our mom or dad leaves, or when a friend stops talking to you? Do you blame people, judge people, do you pick a side or a team? Life is really hard, and sometimes it's easier just to blame somebody else for all the things that go wrong.
It doesn't help that what we see on TV or in movies isn't anything like real life. Problems don't always go away at the end of the day like they do on an episode of Glee. And, sadly, there are no real X-Men to help us battle the bad forces of the world. Walk Two Moons helps us find real ways of dealing with how hard and confusing life can be. It offers tons of examples of how life is full of ambiguity (uncertainty; something that can be understood in many different ways) and contradiction (ideas that oppose each other; something that is both true and false). For example:
- You may love someone, like Sal's mother loves Sal, but you have to leave them.
- Kissing someone for the first time is both awkward and awesome.
- Your dad might love you a lot, but he might not hug you as much anymore, like Sal's dad.
- Good friends are sometimes really annoying and embarrassing, like when Phoebe scoffs at what the Finneys eat for dinner in front of the whole Finney family.
- Just when you think things can't get any worse, they can – like when Sal's dad starts hanging out with Margaret Cadaver so soon after her mom has left.
It's not fair, we think. How are we supposed to deal with all of this pain and awkwardness? Sal has developed her own sure-fire method for feeling better. You'll have to read the book to find out what it is, but we will tell you that you might want to test it out sometime to see if it can work for you, too.
But, before we start to sound too preachy, we're going to give the mic to Sal. Sing it, sister:
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 at 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.