By author Sharon Creech, the book title is based on the message in a fortune cookie she received while finishing the manuscript. The book is about Salamanca Tree Hiddle. She is introduced as a 13-year-old girl, who is homesick and wants to return to a farm they lived in, in Kentucky. The story is mainly about her journey with her grandparents.
A Short Plot Overview
Sal’s mother fled when she was young, and Sal misses her. She sent postcards and Sal, together with her grandparents decided to visit all the places mentioned in them.
Sal has some great memories of her mother before she left. On the journey, she shares some stories with her grandparents, including her romance with a classmate named Ben.
Sal’s memories of her mother Sugar have good and bad moments. She paints her mother as a woman who loved life, her husband, and daughter. Sugar loved nature in terms of insects, animals and also trees. Her name came from sugar maple trees.
Sal’s parents wanted multiple children, but they were all destroyed after Sugar birthed a stillborn. Complications from the birth and later depression became too much for her, and she sought relief by going to Lewiston to her cousin from where she never returned.
Sal feels guilty about the stillbirth because she had an accident on that day, and her mother had to carry her. She wanted to continue her life without Sugar, and this made her even more guilty. Grieving made Sal’s father move them to Ohio. In Ohio, he got a job from Margaret, a friend whom Sal did not like around her father.
Sal gets a friend named Phoebe, whose mother disappeared for some time then came back with a son whom she gave for adoption when she was younger.
Sal and her grandparents set off for Idaho. On the way, the grandmother is bitten by a snake and has to lie in the hospital for some time. She gets better, and they resume the journey. Later on, Sal’s grandmother gets ill again, and their trip is paused. The grandfather gives Sal the car keys so she could continue with the journey without them.
Sal gets to the point where her mother’s bus went off over a cliff. She still does not understand why her mother left. Sal decides to accept her life. She starts making her trip back when an officer stops her. After telling him her story, the police officer returns her to the hospital. Sal’s grandmother had already passed away. Sal and grandfather Hiddle return to Kentucky to their farm.