Reviews for Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2
"Ivy June Mosley and Catherine Combs are participating in the first-ever exchange program between their schools. Both are seventh-graders in Kentucky, but their worlds couldn't be more different: Ivy June lives with her grandparents in their mountain home without indoor plumbing or a telephone, while Catherine lives in a big house in Lexington and has her own cell phone. While spending two weeks in each other's homes, the girls record their observations in journals, and the well-chosen details and scenarios lend authenticity to the girls voices. Catherine is horrified to learn that she can only wash her hair once a week, for example. Jealous friends and a tactless grandmother add challenges, but two large events cement the girls' relationship. Ivy June and Catherine are mature beyond their years, and a mine accident is too heavily foreshadowed, but both the settings and characters are described with affectionate nuance. Readers will connect to these engaging girls and celebrate as they learn they are "more alike than different."" Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 June
On opposite sides of the mountain

Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs are both from Kentucky, but their lifestyles are worlds apart. The two seventh-grade students have agreed to take part in an exchange program; the girls will visit each other for two weeks at a time and record their impressions in their journals.

In the skillful hands of veteran author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of the Newbery Award-winning Shiloh and an astonishing 135 other books, Faith, Hope, and Ivy June unfolds with poetic restraint and unexpected discoveries. As the story opens, we meet Ivy June as she prepares to leave her home in mountainous and old-timey Thunder Creek for a stay with Catherine and her family in a posh suburb of Lexington. She moved in with her grandparents, Mammaw and Papaw, after her own home became too crowded. There’s no running water in most Thunder Creek homes and life tends to be led hand-to-mouth. The town relies on its coal mines, and Ivy June worries for the safety of her beloved Papaw as he returns home each night exhausted and covered in coal dust.

Miles away in Lexington, Catherine awaits Ivy June’s arrival. Catherine’s family takes great pains to welcome Ivy June and to hide their own apprehensions and prejudices. After a tour of Catherine’s lovely, spacious home—the air-conditioning and multiple bathrooms make a big impression—the girls begin to form a friendship, though fragile at times, based on their commonalities and an intentional downplaying of their differences. Their view of each other’s standard of living becomes especially dramatic when Catherine comes to Thunder Creek, trekking over the hills and bathing outside in a tin tub.

As they engage in their shared journey, the girls can’t help but be forever changed by it. But how will these changes affect their lives going forward? Each has expectations and fears, each has to contend with their family’s preconceived notions about life on the other side, and each has to come to terms with the idea that certain stereotypes will inevitably affect their experience. In the end, it’s a shared devotion to their respective families that will enable a bond to form, particularly in the face of loss and a newfound appreciation for the gifts of their own daily lives. 

Ellen Trachtenberg is the author of The Best Children’s Literature: A Parent’s Guide.

Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Seventh graders Ivy June and Catherine participate in a student exchange program between the poor Kentucky mining town of Thunder Creek and the relatively well-to-do city of Lexington. Naylor hits the right notes for the relationships between the girls and community members. The setting is richly realized, and the differences between the two ways of life are illuminated with both realism and diplomacy. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
Seventh-graders Ivy June and Catherine each have an important job to do. They are the ambassadors for their respective Kentucky communities in a student exchange program between the poor mining town of Thunder Creek and the relatively well-to-do city of Lexington. Ivy June visits Lexington first, and most of the story is from her point of view. Many things surprise her, including the four bathrooms in Catherine's house and the way everyone continually hands out compliments at school. When Catherine visits Ivy June in Thunder Creek a few weeks later, she is surprised by the outhouse, and even more by not being able to wash her hair daily. Naylor as always hits the right notes for the relationship between the two girls and between each girl and the other members of the communities. Although the plot is predictable, including a much-foreshadowed disaster at the mine, the setting is richly realized, and the differences between the two ways of life are illuminated with both realism and diplomacy. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #2
Ivy June worries that all Lexington girls are rich, arrogant snobs. Catherine fears that all backwoods mountain people lack intelligence, teeth and indoor plumbing. Despite their prejudices, both Kentucky girls volunteer to take part in a seventh-grade school exchange, in which each will spend two weeks as part of the other's family. Ivy June finds Catherine's life relatively easy, with few chores, her own cell phone and a loving family--though she recognizes Catherine's concern for her sick mother. Catherine appreciates the natural beauty and extended community that surround Ivy June, even as she's shocked by the family's poverty. This finely crafted novel, told mostly through Ivy June's eyes, with forays into both girls' journals, depicts a deep friendship growing slowly through understanding. As both girls wait out tragedies at the book's end, they cling to hope--and each other--in a thoroughly real and unaffected way. Naylor depicts Appalachia with sympathetic realism, showing readers the harsh, inescapable realities of coal country and the quiet courage of people doing their best. Highly recommended. (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 October
In this delightful story we are invited into the lives of two seventh-grade girls from Kentucky. Ivy June Mosley and Catherine Combs have been chosen to take part in a student exchange program. The girls take turns leaving their homes to live and attend classes with the other. Although it seems as if the girls will have nothing in common, they develop a good relationship. Ivy June leaves her Appalachian home to visit Catherine and her close-knit familyÆs large home with indoor plumbing. She blossoms in the new setting. A few weeks later Catherine visits Ivy June and her family and learns to live without phone reception, without running water, and in crowded living conditions. The girlsÆ bond is cemented when CatherineÆs mother has to undergo heart surgery, and Catherine is unable to be there. Ivy June supports Catherine during this frightening experience. A few days later, when Ivy JuneÆs beloved grandfather is trapped in a coal mine, Catherine extends her stay in Thunder Creek to be there during Ivy JuneÆs time of need. They discover that the most important things they have in common are the love of family and the power of love, faith, and hope. Recommended. Ann M.G. Gray, Library Media Specialist, Pittsburg (New Hampshire) School ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #3

Newbery Medalist Naylor's (Shiloh) reflective, resonant novel shapes credible portraits of two Kentucky girls participating in a seventh-grade exchange program. Since her parents' house is too cramped, outspoken Ivy June lives nearby with her bighearted grandparents in aremote mountain hollow, with no indoor bathroom or phone. More reserved Catherine attends private school in Lexington, where she shares a rambling home with her family. In thoughtful, articulate journal entries interspersed with third-person chapters, the girls, who spend two weeks together with each family, share their initial expectations and subsequent impressions ("if Mammaw ever saw the stuff they put on our plates, she'd give it to a dog," Ivy June writes about the cafeteria food). The bond between the girls strengthens when they simultaneously experience traumatic events (Ivy June's coal miner grandfather becomes trapped underground; Catherine's mother undergoes emergency heart surgery). Leaving the hollow, Catherine responds to a comment that she'll have a lot to tell when she arrives home: "To tell it's one thing.... To be here--that's something else." Naylor's deft storytelling effortlessly transports readers to her Kentucky settings--and into two unexpectedly similar lives. Ages 9-12. (June)

[Page 49]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 5-8--Naylor takes up the issues of crossing class lines with a solid portrayal of Ivy June from rural coal country in Kentucky staying with an upper-middle-class family for two weeks over spring break and the return visit of the daughter of that household, Catherine. The living situations of the seventh graders are at two extremes and yet both girls have the humanity and distinctness that allow them to escape the confines of representing their classes. Make no mistake, this is Ivy June's story, and her hardships and family challenges are front and center in a way that Catherine's own family woes are not. The exchange program set up by the schools is a perfect showcase for looking at the role of wealth and poverty in our assumptions about one another. Ivy June's discomfort at having the wrong shoes is comparable to Catherine's squirming at being unable to wash her hair daily. Neither manages to overcome her own class assumptions. Despite the challenges, this is a warm and tender story of learning to care about the needs of the "other" while gaining appreciation for your own values and strengths.--Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

[Page 168]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2009 August
On the surface, Ivy June and Catherine are polar opposites. Ivy June lives with her grandparents in a primitive Kentucky mountain community, with no telephone service or indoor bathroom. Her grandfather ekes out a meager living working in the local coal mine. Catherine lives in a beautiful home in Lexington, attends a private all-girls' school, and owns her own cell phone. When the girls' schools choose them to participate in a new seventh grade exchange program, both are excited yet apprehensive about their upcoming adventure. Each is to live with the other's family for two weeks and journal their true feelings about their experience. It seems a daunting task at first, to remain impartial and not judge the other's lifestyle and circumstances. When both find themselves facing an unexpected and unthinkable loss, however, they take to heart the valuable lesson that no matter how different friends may be on the outside, the love and acceptance within them counts most This charming story about friendship will particularly relate to preteen girls. The characters of Ivy June and Catherine and their evolving relationship to each other and their respective families are both comforting and familiar. Naylor skillfully captures the feeling of the longing Ivy June has to be as close to her parents as Catherine, and the equal longing of Catherine to be part of a true, caring community. It will be a valuable and well-loved addition to any young adult collection.--Julie Watkins PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90588-6. 4Q 4P M Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.