I think I owned Newbery Medal recipient Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech when I was a kid, but I definitely never read it. When I saw the audiobook was read by Hope Davis (one of my favorites!), I thought I’d give it a try.
About the Book:
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle — “Sal” for short — is about to embark on a road trip with her grandparents. Their destination: Lewiston, Idaho, where Sal’s mother went by bus when she left Sal and Sal’s father not so long ago. Sal’s father is staying behind in Euclid, Ohio, where he and Sal moved after Sal’s mother left.
As the miles roll away behind them, Sal entertains her grandparents with the story of Phoebe Winterbottom — Sal’s friend in Euclid — and her madman. And buried behind this inner story is yet another tale, just between Sal and the reader: her own story, about her life in Bybanks, Kentucky, and what happened before and after her mother disappeared.
I’m not sure how I missed Walk Two Moons as a kid — probably in the same way I missed The Phantom Tollbooth. Though, really, I think I appreciated both more as an adult than I would have as a child. I doubt I’d have gotten the depth of Walk Two Moons, the bittersweet interplay between the three stories Sal tells, had I been reading for plot (as I did as a kid).
Creech weaves the three stories together flawlessly. On the surface, Sal and her grandparents have a rather eventful journey west. One level down, Phoebe’s story fills out the narrative and provides an air of mystery. And the innermost story, the tender core of the novel where Sal lets her guard down in little flashes, grabs onto your heart. As the boundaries between the three fade toward the final pages, I think the end is even more poignant because of how these separate stories collapse into the final moments.
Sal is a wonderfully developed character, especially for a middle grade novel. Because we get to see her in so many lights, as well as hear her own voice telling the stories, she is quite multifaceted before the book has gotten very far. She’s strong and determined but also scared, and Creech strikes a perfect balance in her leading lady. Walk Two Moons is truly Salamanca’s journey, and it is a pleasure to watch her make it.
Hope Davis is a fantastic narrator. Walk Two Moons was the third of her audiobooks I’ve listened to, and she has been flawless across the board (even when I didn’t much care for the novel being read — State of Wonder, I’m looking at you!). Her gentle voice and mild accent in Walk Two Moons put the listener at ease and allow him or her to slip effortlessly into the tale unfolding. Davis has the rare gift of being able to take on various roles successfully while at the same time remaining Hope Davis, and she has become one of my go-to narrators. If you’ve yet to try something by her, I can’t recommend her enough.