Hello readers! Our Book Wrap for Same Sun Here was a resounding success. Neela Vaswani did an amazing job fielding questions, and our discussion was really thought provoking. I am still thinking about the theme of what it means to be an American, which comes up a lot in Same Sun Here. When River gets in trouble for disagreeing with his teacher on page 67, he says “Mamaw says that the only way to be a good American is to speak up for what you believe in.” On page 262, the citizenship teacher comforts Meena, who is worried about balancing her love of India and America, by saying “That’s what it means to be a good American. To be free to love who and what you want, and to keep a lot in your heart at once.” These characters suggest that being a “good” American is more about your values than where you were born or what your native language is. Do you think there are values that make someone an American? Do you think it takes more than values to be an American?
This is an important theme to keep in mind as you being reading our next book, The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli, which is the story of a young immigrant struggling to make it in America all on his own. This book takes readers back to 1892 to follow Dom, a new arrival from Italy, as he makes his way in the infamous Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan. Dom is put on a ship to America alone by his mother, his sole possession a new pair of shoes. Napoli expertly conjures up the harshness of street life for homeless kids at the turn of the century, and readers will really feel like they are scraping by along with Dom. We are so excited to discuss this beautiful, funny, and sometimes sad work of historical fiction at our next Book Wrap on Sunday, December 2nd from 3:30-5 pm. Lucky for us, author Donna Jo Napoli will be there! Look for her interview on the blog soon. Also check the blog later today for a Book Wrap recap post.