Sunday, May 31, 2015

Summer Reading 2015 The Education of Ivy Blake


I definitely need to have a talk with the folks at Penguin Young Readers. Why do they keep picking books to highlight through their Author Live Chats that make me cry? (This and others such as The Secret Hum of a DaisyNightingale's Nest, and The War that Saved My Life have all made me keep the tissues close.) Actually Penguin can't take all the blame, because a friend had already recommended Prairie Evers, which is the book that first introduces the character of Ivy Blake.

Why all the tears? Because Ivy's life is a mess, or her mother is anyway. Ivy has been living with Prairie's family, but her mother shows up and wants Ivy to come back to live with her in the rental house she has found. Even though she would rather stay with the Evers family, Ivy decides it is the right thing to give her mother a chance. As you might guess from the crying, things do not go well. The police come to the house several times, Prairie gets her feelings hurt because Ivy is hiding things (ashamed of the trouble her mother is in), and Ivy begins to feel hopeless.

But this is not a depressing book, there are just sad parts. As Grammy Evers knows, Ivy is determined and curious, good at waiting, independent, a survivor - just like the heron Grandmother nicknames her for in Cherokee, "Knasgowa." And there are more people than just the Evers who care about her; some are kids and some are adults, but when Ivy finally realizes what she wants to do, they all pull together for her.

This is a wonderful story of resilience, of trying to see the best in people, of rising above your circumstances, and of following your dreams. It shows the power of friendship and love. For readers who enjoy realistic fiction, perhaps books like Faith and Hope and Ivy June, this is a title they should try.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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