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Written by Jody Perry
This is ultimately a very sad book and loss is the theme that is central to both the plot and each of the characters. Sal has been affected by loss multiple times and really had to go through the loss of her mother twice; once when she left, and once when she was killed which also meant the loss of Sal's hope that one day she would come back again. The reason for her mother leaving was also loss as it was losing a baby that precipitated her departure.
The loss of her mother meant that Sal had to suffer the loss of her world as she knew it as she was forces to move from the home she loved and in a way she lost a part of herself when that happened.
Phoebe's mother leaves because she feels she has lost herself in the minutiae of life and by leaving she creates the experience of loss in her family.
Margaret Cadaver experiences loss when her husband is killed by a drink driver and it is this experience that brings her and Sal's father together as they each understand what the other feels; she is also an enduring reminder of the loss the Hiddle family has experienced as she was the only survivor of the crash that killed Sal's mother.
Walking A Mile In Someone Else's Shoes
The title of the book comes from one of the sayings that the mystery note writer leaves on Phoebe's doorstep - never judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins. It is a reminder that until we have been in somebody else's position we should not criticize them. It is also a Native American mantra that Sal's father espouses. This theme is evident in the road trip that Sal takes with her grandparents as she literally does walk in her mothers shoes and she starts to realize that her mom had the right to have feelings that are not precipitated by her daughter. She also tries to understand what it must have been like to walk in Margaret's moccasins and why her father likes spending time with her so much.
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Sal's father chipped away at the plaster walls because his wife had left him. They'd been renovating the old farm house together, and he continued to chip away every night while he waited to hear from her.