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-Hosted by Shannon Messenger

I am seriously excited to tell you about today’s book.
Slowly, slowly….ok not really. Pretty much from the beginning of my blogging, MMGM has been my favorite day to post. And no, it’s not because these are shorter reviews, it’s because I am absolutely IN LOVE with middle grade stories.

Honestly, I know it is because middle grade was such a hard time for me, and I connected deeply with the books I read. So when I pick up a story like Ivy in the Shadows, even though I didn’t deal with all of Ivy’s particular struggles… I find myself in her. This story comes out tomorrow, and I’m saying you must go pick it up!

Author:Chris Woodworth| Goodreads
Publisher: MacMillan via Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: Contemporary, Realism, Family
Pages: 208
Release Date: February 5th, 2013

When Ivy’s stepfather leaves, her mama begins waitressing to pay the bills. That’s also when 12 year-old Caleb starts living with them as a boarder. He’s the same age as Ivy, and practically the weirdest boy she has ever met.

Now it’s up to Ivy to babysit her 5 year old brother, keep Caleb from filling JJ’s head with lies, and keep her best friend Ellen in the dark about her home life. Ivy is pretty good at hiding in the shadows when it comes to finding out information,(maybe eavesdropping, even?) but as life at home gets tougher and even more complicated, she learns to step out from the shadows and maybe, even to speak up.

I was graciously provided a copy from Macmillan Kids. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.

5 reasons why this book is marvelous!

  1. Firstly, I loved how this story was set close to home for me! I’m a Midwest girl, through and through, and though I love stories set in the mountains or on the coast, it’s great to read a story about my own backyard. I have a vivid imagination and often have no trouble visualizing a story, but because the Midwest isn’t always the pick for a setting, when I do find a book set there, I hold it close to my heart. I felt as if I could relate more to the story, and that Ivy might just be a girl I run into on my hometown streets.
  2. Which brings me to Ivy. A heroine with faults is a wonderful, beautiful heroine. Even as a 26 year old, I related to Ivy in so many ways. She wasn’t afraid to be different, she wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself, but she was a curious girl and one who wasn’t the most patient with people. However, as the story progresses, Ivy really grew and her character arc evolved. I enjoyed watching her learn from her mistakes, as well as realizing how important it is to give people a chance.
  3. Besides Ivy, the rest of the characters were great! Cass (mama) Aunt Maureen, JJ, Caleb, the Pastor… I felt that as a reader we got to know the characters pretty deeply, all except for Caleb. But his secrets were what made him–and when we finally do figure out his story, we realize he is one of those middle grade boys that just melts your heart. And that girls secretly have a crush on.
  4. Every once in awhile I felt that Ivy could have backed off a little from her frustrations with the other characters, especially Caleb. It upset me when she would not give him a chance, and walked over him when he was nothing but nice to her. But in the end, Ivy redeems herself and the ending is one that will leave readers smiling–and I think it (the story overall) is one that, despite the troubled reality, is a story that is full of lessons and teaching moments that readers won’t know they are taking away. Just the way I like!
  5. I will admit… I did only give this book a 4 simply because at times there were some issues in the story that frustrated me, and in a few of the scenes I felt I might have to do a little more explaining that I would like with readers. Nothing too bad or YA–just not exactly what I’m used too in a middle grade book. Than again, it is realism and Woodworth does a great job at grasping reality, even if it is a hard one.

4 rating

Book Talk: Have you heard about Ivy and the Shadows? If not, what do you think it sounds like? Do you know any other middle grade books set in the Midwest that you would recommend?

Hopeful reading!