Walk Two Moons has received five prestigious awards, including the Newbery Medal in 1995. The Ohio-born author, Sharon Creech, attributes the title of the book to a message she discovered inside a fortune cookie while she was finishing her manuscript: “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” The plot is separated into three separate settings that intermingle throughout the story to illustrate the personal transformation of the lead character, Salamanca Tree Hiddle, known as Sal. She is a thirteen-year-old girl who is homesick for her farm in the fictional town of Bybanks, Kentucky, and who misses her mother with a desperate intensity that dominates the story. The book is framed around a road trip Sal takes with her grandparents from Euclid, Ohio, to Lewiston, Idaho, where her mother fled after a tragic miscarriage and a bout with depression. Sal and her grandparents trace the route her mother took west, visiting the places she described in postcards she sent them.
Throughout the road trip, Sal recalls memories of her mother before she left their home in Bybanks. She also tells stories to her grandparents about the recent disappearance of Phoebe Winterbottom’s mother, the appearance of the Lunatic, and her budding romance with a classmate named Ben. In turn, Sal’s grandparents relate stories about their own lives and marriage.
Sal’s memories of her mother, Sugar, are both sweet and sad. Sal’s early memories of her mother reveal a woman who adores her husband, her daughter, and life on their family farm. Sugar loves anything to do with nature, including insects, animals, and sugar maple trees (after which she was named). Of particular importance are the wild blackberries Sal would pick with her mother in the spring. Sugar’s kisses often smelled like blackberries, so the berries come to represent her mother to Salamanca, as do the trees for which they are each named.
Sal’s parents dream of “filling up the house with children,” but when Sugar gives birth to a stillborn daughter and subsequently undergoes an emergency hysterectomy necessitated by complications with the birth, she struggles with her roles as a wife and mother and falls slowly into a depression. Sugar hopes to find relief during a visit to her cousin, so she travels to Lewiston, Idaho. But she does not return. The details of Sugar’s experience in Idaho are vague until the last few chapters...
(The entire section is 1431 words.)
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While on a six-day journey with her eccentric grandparents, Gram and Gramps, Salamanca Tree Hiddle faces and comes to terms with her life as it is and not as she expected it to be. Sal has and is facing challenges that many thirteen-year-olds can identify with and yet, some that are out of the ordinary. The book is multi-layered with three main stories. The first is the story of her trip with her grandparents. The second is the story of Phoebe Winterbottom's family and Phoebe's mother's disappearance. The third story that underlies Phoebe's story is Sal's story of the loss of her mother. Although information about Sal's mother, Sugar, is revealed throughout the story, the reader until the end of the book does not know the truth of what happened to Sugar. What the reader does know is that Sugar left home to visit family in Lewiston, Idaho and Sal is on a trip with her grandparents retracing her mother's journey. Photo of Sharon Creech by Matthew Self, 1994.
Even though the reader does not know Sugar is dead until the last chapters, Sal's conflict over her mother's leaving is evident from the beginning. Sugar left in search of her identity. Sal wonders if there was something she did or didn't do that contributed to her mother's needing to leave. Reflection of postcards Sal received from Sugar on her trip serves to reassure Sal of her mother's love for her. At the end of the book what happened to Sugar becomes clear as Sal completes her journey locating a...
(The entire section is 729 words.)