Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

"A Refreshingly Honest Story"

Buzz is building for a new children’s book by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

January 5, 2012 Former Harrogate poet and novelist Silas House tends to be published by small literary presses without a huge budget for marketing, but his books always seem to find their way into the national spotlight anyway. Consider what Publisher’s Weekly has to say–in a starred review, no less–about Same Sun Here, the new middle-grade novel by House and his coauthor, Neela Vaswani:

Even better than reading a refreshingly honest story by one talented writer is reading one by two such writers. House (Eli the Good) and adult author Vaswani (Where the Long Grass Bends) alternate between the voices of Meena—a 12-year-old girl who lives with her recently immigrated Indian family in New York City—and River, who lives with his environmental activist grandmother in rural Kentucky. The two connect as pen pals, and their letters reveal the unusual intersections (like okra) and the stark contrasts in their lives. The preteens reflect on everything from prejudice and religion to politics and music, but their voices are so open, true, and even humorous that the story never feels heavy or preachy (‘You are the best person I know,’ River writes. ‘But I’m sorry, I still don’t like to talk about shaving your legs and all that. That is something we will have to agree to disagree on’). Meena and River don’t have all their troubles worked out by book’s end, but readers will feel confident that their friendship will get them through whatever lies ahead.

No wonder the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Association has named the book a 2012 Spring Okra Pick. It won’t be in stores till February 14, but you can read an excerpt here and follow news of the book here. At Chapter 16, we’ll be reviewing the book the week of its release; till then, check out our review of Eli the Good, an original essay by Silas House here, and the most recent news of House’s environmental activism here.