Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Ivy in the Shadows by Chris Woodworth



A while ago there was a thread going around the twittersphere called #YAHeals. It was a wonderful thread where bloggers and readers were sharing how Young Adult books had affected their lives. While reading Ivy in the Shadows I was really struck with the ability of middle grade books to effect readers as well. After reading Ivy’s story I feel like starting a hashtag called #middlegradeinspires. I saw a lot of my own past experiences reflected in the story and I felt that many of the situations in this book can inspire others dealing with similar situations.
  In this contemporary read we meet Ivy at the center of a whirlwind of amazing changes. Her stepfather Jack Henry has left, her mother is burning up the phone lines with her best friend “Aunt” Maureen brainstorming, and her best friend Ellen is growing into someone Ivy doesn't understand.

In the midst of all this change comes Caleb. Following Maureen’s suggestion Ivy's mother, Cass begins attending church and asking for the support of the community. This mortifies Ivy and brings the family to the attention of the minister Pastor Harold. It also brings financial support to the family in the form of a paid boarder of Missionaries called Caleb. Caleb with the serious face and respectable manners. A boy filled with stillness and obedience who tells quirky  stories about Haiti that inspire Ivy’s brother JJ and raise Ivy’s suspicions . Ivy’s heart is on guard and her strong sense of responsibility leaves her struggling with fears she cant voice.
As Caleb becomes a part of Ivy's family she is able to use his dependability and focus her energies on her friendship with Ellen. After years of living in synch Ellen is now obsessed with fashion, parties and the “cool “ kids. Ivy doesn't know how she fits in with this new life of Ellen’s and it adds one more area of tension in her life.Then at the center of this storm comes Aunt Maureen who will stir things to the breaking point.

I was so involved with the characters in this book. Ivy has such a pure narrative voice. Her sarcasm, frustration and barely spoken fears make her a very relatable character that you really connect with. Chris has a wonderful way of incorporating realistic challenges kids face in this book along with healthy yet not overly preachy solutions. Such a wonderful read and I’m adding the rest of Chris’s books to my wish list.


Liza (WhoRuBlog) said...

Lovely review! I'll look for it. Thanks.

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Chris said...

Hello, I'm Chris Woodworth and I just wanted to say this is a lovely review. I appreciate your kind words so much. It really made my week to read it. Thank you so much.