Penpals and dating under 18
While on a class field trip to a New York City supermarket, Meena Joshi spies a box of okra, one of her favorite foods in her native India.
Emblazoned with the word “KENTUCKY,” the box displays mountains that remind her of her childhood home.
Letter by letter, River Dean Justice, a coal-miner’s son from the eastern Kentucky town of Black Banks, and Meena, an Indian immigrant living with her family in the tight confines of New York City’s Chinatown, open their worlds to each other.
House, an award-winning Appalachian author, associate professor at Berea College and Appalachian Voices board member, pens River’s letters, and Vaswani, an author and education activist in India and the U. Meena and River write with bold honesty, honoring a pact to “be our true selves to each other.” River and Meena both have close ties with older women, and the pen pals share the wisdom they glean from these relationships.