FAITH, HOPE AND IVY JUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

March 11, 2009 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

faith-hope-ivy-juneTwo twelve-year-old girls, living in Kentucky, become ‘ambassadors” when they volunteer to live at each other’s homes and attend each other’s schools. First, it’s Ivy June Mosley’s turn to visit the wealthy Lexington home of Catherine Combs. Ivy June’s parents have reservations about this visit because the Mosleys live in Thunder Creek, a very backwater area in the Appalachian Mountains that is still waiting for telephone service and indoor plumbing. They are afraid of Ivy June’s living in a “magazine-type” house, that will cause her to become “stuck-up” when she returns home. They aren’t sure of Catherine’s expectations, either, when it’s her turn to stay at their very tiny shack. Ivy Jean, though, has gotten the ok from her grandparents with whom she is now living in order to create more room for her four siblings. Ivy Jean believes strongly in the hardworking values of her grandparents. Though she would dearly love the luxury of having her own room with a matching spread and curtains, she has absorbed the teachings of her proud grandfather when she declares, “…the secret to life is wanting what you have.” Catherine, too, is a good sport when she has to manage without a cell phone or hair dryer. She jumps right into taking a bath in a tin tub and walking a mile to the school bus. Both girls learn to deal with jealous friends, to keep each other’s secrets, and to support each other during family crisis. As part of the exchange, each girl keeps a journal with her expectations and then records the realities she discovers in her new environment. Much to everyone’s amazement, the girls have more in common than their differences. Naylor has written a book that emphasizes the inner strengths of two very well-grounded girls. Her description of Thunder Creek will probably startle suburban tweens. Like any book about Appalachia, this lifestyle is fast disappearing. Much of the hardscrabble lifestyle has already vanished. Coal miners, kerosene lanterns, sharing bath water, lack of phones, traversable roads, et al, are coming to an end. Naylor doesn’t mourn the demise of these conditions, but she clearly admires the grit and energy of the mountain people who make do and stand tall.   


Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)


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