Oh how much I want to hug Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. She has created the book that I needed to rejuvenate my love of middle grade fiction. I haven't found many in this genre that I've really felt the need to shout out about in the past couple of months, but Faith, Hope, and Ivy June is a book I hope you all will run out and read and then hand to your kids and friends and coworkers to read. The message is one that we all need to hear.
"Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other’s homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their journals. Catherine and her family have a beautiful home with plenty of space. Since Ivy June’s house is crowded, she lives with her grandparents. Her Pappaw works in the coal mines supporting four generations of kinfolk. Ivy June can’t wait until he leaves that mine forever and retires. As the girls get closer, they discover they’re more alike than different, especially when they face the terror of not knowing what’s happening to those they love most."
The message of friendship and hope, despite differences in social status is overpowering in this story, in the most wonderful of ways. The characters, both Ivy June and Catherine, as well as Mamaw and Papaw, brothers and sisters and parents, were all realistic and incredibly charming and each reacted to the exchange program in a manner true to their character.
Naylor's descriptions of life in both Lexington and Thunder Creek were enough to make me feel as if I was there, in the story with the girls. I absolutely loved this powerful story and would highly recommend it to both school's and public libraries for their shelves. Know a middle grade reader? Buy it for her. Now.
Thank you to Random House for the review copy :)
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover to link to Amazon.
Faith, Hope, and Ivy June
Phyllish Reynolds Naylor