Insta Review: Same Sun Here, by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

Insta Review gives you a new book recommendation in under a minute. Go ahead, time it!

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One of the best pen-pal novels I’ve read yet. Meena and River choose each other’s names randomly in a school penpal program, and have no idea what their correspondence will turn into. Her Indian family lives illegally in New York City, trying desperately to fly under the radar until they can pass their exams to become American citizens and make enough money to survive. His family is in rural Kentucky, struggling to get by after a coal company takes jobs and threatens the safety of their small town. Over a year’s worth of letters, we see Meena and River grow close and share their “most true selves”, confiding secrets, fears, and feelings to each other that they share with no one else. In this time, they both experience trauma, joy, and loss – and learn that these experiences are universal. I remember having a school pen pal as a child and I, like most kids, put zero effort into the assignment. These two characters are so honest, dedicated, and open-minded, it borders on unrealistic, but it’s lovely to read anyway. This is one of the first “historical fiction” I’ve read about a time that I remember living so vividly;  it felt funny to be reading social commentary about the Obama campaigning years, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re an adult! I love the lesson that when you step outside of your comfort zone and get to know someone new who is different than you, you can learn not only about them, but also about yourself. Same Sun Here is full of sunshine and honesty, and I loved it. Definitely recommending to my readers.

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