Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Summary: When push comes to shove, two Kentucky girls find strength in each other.

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. -- Delacorte Press

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a marvelous book for middle-graders. I had high expectations for this book because Ms. Naylor has written so many fantastic books for young people including the Newberry Award winning novel SHILOH; and I am so happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE is just one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after you've finished reading it. The story, the characters, and the lessons in this story are all extremely memorable.

FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE is already receiving awards -- it is the winner of the Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers." As far as I'm concerned, there should be many more awards coming in the next few months. This book not only told a very good story, but it also had terrific characters who learned so many important life lessons.

I think one of the reasons that I enjoyed this story so much was because I could somewhat relate to it. As a child, I never participated in an exchange program, but I did attend a lot of new schools because my family moved so often. I could understand both of the girls' fears and insecurities about entering new and very different environments. Another way that I could relate to this book was because it pertained to coal mines. My family comes from a line of coal miners who live in Western Pennsylvania. I enjoyed reading about life in the coal mines and how incredibly risky and difficult a coal miner's job is.

If I put on my "mother" hat (instead of just my "reader" hat), I have to say that the lessons in this book were wonderful. I truly think that children who read this book can't help but think about Catherine and Ivy June and all of the things they learned through their experiences with each other. I thought this book had so many valuable points about friendship. While both Catherine and Ivy Jean seemed to be nothing alike on the outside, they realized that they were actually kind of similar. Rather than focusing on how different they were, they decided to appreciate each other's differences and find the things they had in common. I also think they gained some self-confidence and learned a great deal about themselves because they realized that they could adapt to other environments and that they had certain things about their lives that made them pretty special. Another meaningful lesson that was apparent in this book (especially in the times of crisis) was that the girls discovered the importance of their families and friends.

I think FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE would make a perfect pick for our Mother Daughter book club. I also recommend it as a potential discussion book for the classroom. There is a teacher's guide available which would help facilitate the conversation; but even without it, there is a ton to talk about concerning this story. I actually would like to see my daughter and her friends read and discuss this book because I think there are so many valuable lessons about family, self-discovery and friendship. These lessons are especially important for our girls as they are in that ever-so-impressionable tween phase.

I read this book a few weeks ago, and I wanted Booking Daughter to read it and give her impressions. I had a feeling that she was going to think this book was something special. Here are Booking Daughter's thoughts:

I really liked FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE. It taught me a lot of lessons and I also got to learn more about coal mines.

Catherine and Ivy June realize that they are different on the outside but similar on the inside. I think that was a big part of the story. You can be friends with different types people. You also learn more lessons in this book about friendships and secrets.

My Great Grandfather used to work in a coal mine. I am going to ask him for more information about his job.

Phylis Reynolds Naylor is a favorite author of mine. I read SHILOH in my reading class. I also read all of the BOYS VS. GIRLS books except one. I was so excited to read FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE.

I really liked the characters and I want to know what happens to them. I hope she writes a sequel.

A big thanks to Booking Daughter for writing her review and to the publisher for sending us a copy of the book.


Beth F said...

Super review by both you and Booking Daughter. I loved Shiloh and I bet I would like this one too.

Melanie said...

Thanks for reviewing this. I need a birthday preent for my niece, so I think she's getting this :)

bermudaonion said...

I can tell Booking Daughter is one smart cookie since she got the message of that book so well. One of Vance's favorite books when he was young was Shiloh, so I'm very familiar with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's writing. This one sounds wonderful.

Anna said...

I agree with Kathy--you have a smart one there! Glad you were able to share what sounds like a great book. I'll have to mention this one to my daughter.

Diary of an Eccentric

Kelly said...

I love your Mother/Daughter book club, and its a wonderful review!!

kalea_kane said...

This sounds like a pleasure to read. It was excellent getting both of your views on it. I think this is a book I would love. I hate to say it, but I have never read Shiloh though I heard so many great things about it. Time to get off my duff.

Julie said...

I am not sure if I have this in my junior high library, but I am going to make sure I do when I go back to work. Thanks for a great review, love books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor!

ANovelMenagerie said...

OOOH OOOHH OOOOHHH! I want to read this one!

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

How neat that both you and Booking Daughter made a personal connection to FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE. It was nice to read her (very articulate!) comments on the book, always a pleasure ...