From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Meena, a recent immigrant from India, lives in Manhattan's Chinatown with her family. Through a program arranged by their schools, she becomes a pen pal with River, who lives in rural Kentucky and is the son of a coal miner. They exchange letters via snail mail and, as a result, learn about each other and themselves. Sharing day-to-day activities, secrets, opinions, and questions, Meena and River start to break down barriers and talk about their lives. Their letters reveal their many similarities and differences. They both have a close relationship with their grandmothers, love dogs, and their fathers work far away in order to provide for their families. They maintain their correspondence as they go through some difficult moments in their lives such as when Meena faces the death of her grandmother in India and when River's town faces environmental concerns related to coal mining. The novel (Candlewick, 2012) is perfectly narrated by authors Silas House (River) and Neela Vaswani (Meena), further invigorating the story with their Southern and Indian accents. This tale about debunking cultural stereotypes, friendship, and finding common ground will resonate with listeners.-Katie Llera, Sayreville Middle School, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Even better than reading a refreshingly honest story by one talented writer is reading one by two such writers. House and Vaswani alternate between the voices of Meena and River. The two connect as pen pals, and their letters reveal the unusual intersections and the stark contrasts in their lives... Readers will feel confident that their friendship will get them through whatever lies ahead.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This tender and breathtakingly honest story about unlikely friendships and finding common ground will captivate readers... In an era when social media permeates every area of our lives, Meena and River’s old-fashioned camaraderie through letters feels refreshing and true. Audiences will revel in this lovely story about a boy and girl who are not so different from one another after all.
—School Library Journal (starred review)