This is a story by Sharon Creech. The title is based on a message she received from a fortune cookie she got when completing the manuscript. This text, therefore, provides a detailed plot overview of this award-winning book.
Here Is a Well-Constructed Synopsis
The plot of this book has three separate sections that all work around the main character, a girl named Salamanca Tree Hiddle, or in short, Sal. She is thirteen years old and is homesick for the farm she used to live in, located in Bybanks town in Kentucky. She portrays how intensely she missed her mother. The story is based on a trip that Sal and her grandparents take to Idaho from Ohio. Her mother fled in Lewiston after she had a miscarriage and struggled with depression. Sal and her grandparents used the route that the mother used while heading west. They visit all the places her mother mentions in postcards she sent.
Through most of this journey, Sal reflects on the memories she had of her mother before she abandoned her. She tells her grandparents several stories. One is about a classmates mother who disappeared when a lunatic made an appearance and also her growing romance with Ben, who was her classmate. The grandparents share too about their lives and their marriage.
The memories that Sal has of her mother named Sugar have light and sad moments. The early memories portray a woman who loved her husband, Sal, her daughter and also the life on the farm. Sugar is said to love nature in general with the named specifics of animals, insects, and more importantly sugar maple trees that derived her name. Her kisses had the smell of blackberries. The berries represented her mother to Sal together with the trees.
Salamanca’s parents had good plans to have several children. These plans were destroyed when Sugar gave birth to a stillborn girl. As a result, she underwent a hysterectomy that was forced by the complications related to the birth. Later on, she begins struggling with being a wife and also a mother and sinks into depression. Sugar then decides to seek some relief by visiting her cousin in Lewiston but fails to return. Her experiences in Idaho are vague in the final chapters of the book.
Sal was struggling with guilt because she had had an accident on the day her mother had a stillbirth and her mother had to carry Sal for a while. She was also guilty of feeling the desire to continue with her life without her mother. Her father also grieved painfully which made him move with Sal to Ohio where a friend named Margaret had gotten him a job. Sal disliked Margaret’s relationship with his father. Sal even makes attempts to avoid Margaret and her mother.
Sal becomes friends with a classmate named Phoebe Winterbottom. Their friendship grows for some time, and then the mother of Phoebe disappears. Sal empathizes with phoebes loss since she suffered a similar fate with Sugar. However, Phoebe’s mother returns after some days with a son whom she had given up for adoption.
After this is resolved, Sal’s grandparents arrive and decide to take Sal to Idaho. During their adventures, Sal’s grandmother is bitten by a snake while she swims which makes them have to spend a few days at the hospital. After she gets a little better, the trip resumes. Grandmother Hiddle becomes very ill, and this makes the trip take another stop. She is taken to a hospital a second time. Grandfather Hiddle knew that it was important that Sal reaches the grave of her mother on her mother’s birthday. He, therefore, hands Salamanca the car keys and Sal continues the journey on her own.
She arrives at the point where the bus sugar took, went over a cliff. Sal still does not understand the reasons sugar had for taking the trip. She decides to accept the events of her life. While making her trip back, Sal is picked up by a police officer. She tells him her story. The officer takes her back to the hospital and has the car to Sal’s grandfather. Sal arrives to discover that her grandmother had passed on. They stay in Ohio briefly and then Sal goes back to the farm in Kentucky, in the company of her grandfather.