Saturday, October 27, 2012

Armchair Traveler: Laugh With the Moon

Ever since I was a child I have had dreams of travelling all over the globe. I am interested in different cultures and people. And yet, I have never left the United States. Sigh.  My children are getting a little bit older where we can now take vacations without too many meltdowns and we don't have to bring things like strollers along, so perhaps one day we will become a bit more adventurous.
Despite my lack of actually  having gone anywhere, I feel as though I won't be all too surprised if I ever do get to visit another country.  I have learned about a variety of places through the many stories I have read over the past decades.
Recently I breezed through Shana Burg's Laugh With the Moon which takes place in Malawi.  Malawi isn't a country I know much about, but I sure feel a lot closer to it after reading Burg's book.
Clare and her father have to come Malawi for sixty-four days so her father, a doctor, can practice medicine there.  Clare isn't very happy about leaving her friends and she is still grieving the unexpected death of her mother.Life in Africa is certainly different than what she is used to, yet she manages to find friends, one in particular who Clare is able to look up to a bit as this girl has had to forge forward in life despite losing both parents.  There are many challenges that Clare encounters in her time in Malawi - attending school where children do not have enough supplies and are crowded in is just one of them. 
When Clare's new friends take her on a trip to see the beauty of their country, they are confronted with their biggest challenge yet.
Although a lot of this book deals with Clare trying to fit in to a different culture, there is also a message of healing as she comes to terms with her mother's death and the people of Malawi break through the wall she has built around herself.
Burg has spent time in Malawi herself which gives Laugh With the Moon an authentic feel.  Although merely reading about exotic locales is nowhere close to visiting them, Laugh with the Moon gave a glimpse into another culture that tween readers will be able to understand and relate to while broadening their horizons.

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