This amazing book relates the miracle of two high school kids whose pen pal relationship transforms both lives. Martin is a brilliant boy living in abject poverty in Zimbabwe; Caitlin is an admittedly pampered junior high girl in Pennsylvania suburbia. For the first half of the book, the contrast is stark. Martin works against insuperable odds to better himself while his lily-white counterpart in America goes to the mall, goofs off, and wastes her extravagant allowance.
But the thrill of this story is witnessing how Caitlin’s family develops a sympathetic heart for her bereft overseas friend, sending him $20 bills, then care packages, and finally a desperate attempt to get him into a prestigious U.S. university with a full scholarship.
Special kudos must go to Liz Welch, who took the collected stack of saved letters from these two young people, endlessly interviewed them, and then created this amazing saga of “Love Thy Neighbor.” And a big thanks to Scholastic for spotting this literary gem and putting it in their bargain catalog where millions of children might be inspired to go and do thou likewise.