J's Reviews > Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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's review
Sep 27, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: middle-school-fiction, realistic-fiction

Maine Student Book Award Nominee, 2010-2011. Initially I wasn't very interested in the premise of this book: two girls who live in Kentucky, one from a very poor coal-mining town and the other from a prosperous city family, embark on an exchange program. But Naylor "nails" these two girls -- poor Ivy June and city girl Catherine -- and the stereotypes and prejudices that exist between the classes. First Ivy June visits Lexington and experiences a life so different from her own -- indoor plumbing, cell phones, a night at the theater, and people who feel sorry for her. She opens herself to the wonder of all these new things, but there are some uncomfortable moments which Naylor describes realistically without over-dramatizing them. The girls begin to develop a true friendship, and then it's time for Catherine to visit a dirt-poor community. I think teens would be fascinated to read about people who live in America today without basic amenities. Ivy June's family doesn't have a telephone and she has to live with her grandparents because there isn't room for her in her parents' small house. A couple of tragedies bring the girls closer together and we get an honest look at what mining communities must live through when there's an accident at the mine. A quiet gem of a book.
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