When I began my career as a librarian, I had taken one Young Adult Literature class and one Children's Literature class. They were both great, but certainly not enough to "cover" what I was going to need. One of the ways I became acquainted with what my students were really reading was paying attention to what they were checking out. As soon as I noticed a trend, I began reading the authors and titles. The first author on my radar was Pyhllis Reynolds Naylor. The middle school girls could not get enough of Alice, while the boys gravitated to Shiloh. I fell in love with Alice and have kept up with her "life in books," as well as the censorship and challenges that have plagued her growing pains. I was thrilled to find out that Naylor had a new title forthcoming and picked up an ARC of Faith, Hope, and Ivy June at ALA Midwinter in Denver.
Ivy June and her family live in Thunder Creek, Kentucky. The people there live simple lives, with many families relying on dangerous mining jobs as a source of income. Catherine and her family live in Lexington, Kentucky. They have a fancy house and Catherine attends private school. Both girls have been chosen to participate in an exchange program. They will stay in each other's homes, attend school together, and document their experiences to share with their respective classmates.
Both Ivy June and Catherine start the exchange with preconceived notions of what the other's life will be like. Although they both try to keep and open mind, they have both grown up with stereotypes about life in Thunder Creek vs life in Lexington. As the exchange begins, Ivy June settles into Catherine's home and school. She realizes that she can keep up with the work at school and enjoys the activities Catherine has planned for her, including seeing a musical and going horseback riding. However, she does notice that Catherine's family lives a life more secluded from one another and more hectic than her own. It's also interesting to get to know Catherine's friends. However, when Ivy June reveals one of Catherine's secrets to her friends, will their relationship survive?
During the second half of the exchange, Catherine comes to live with Ivy June and her Mammaw and Papaw Mosley. Because her parents' home is too crowded, Ivy June lives with her grandparents. They do not have an indoor bathroom or the luxuries that Catherine enjoys in her home. It is evident, though, that they are hard-working and happy people. Catherine adjusts to not being able to take a shower each day, as well as walking a long distance to catch the school bus, but is less accepted by Ivy June's best friend Shirl.
Just as Catherine becomes more comfortable, tragedy strikes both girls' families. They must work together to cope with their fears and have hope and faith that everything will turn out for the best. This is story of love in families, friendship, as well as one of learning to understand the similarities and differences among people. Faith, Hope, and Ivy June is now available from Random House.
PS My Phyllis Reynolds Naylor books now take up an entire shelf and I can't wait to see what she writes next!