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Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

4.3 74
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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When push comes to shove, two Kentucky girls find strength in each other.

Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other’s homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their


When push comes to shove, two Kentucky girls find strength in each other.

Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other’s homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their journals. Catherine and her family have a beautiful home with plenty of space. Since Ivy June’s house is crowded, she lives with her grandparents. Her Pappaw works in the coal mines supporting four generations of kinfolk. Ivy June can’t wait until he leaves that mine forever and retires. As the girls get closer, they discover they’re more alike than different, especially when they face the terror of not knowing what’s happening to those they love most.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 15, 2009:
“Naylor's deft storytelling effortlessly transports readers to her Kentucky settings—and into two unexpectedly similar lives.”

Publishers Weekly

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)

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Children's Literature - Heather L. Montgomery
Ivy June Mosley, a seventh-grader from Thunder Creek, Kentucky, prepares for a student exchange program with Catherine Combs from Lexington's Buckner Academy. Spunky Ivy June is nervous, excited, and working hard to manage her family's hesitancy about the program. While in Lexington, Ivy June learns that "city folks" do have indoor plumbing, cell phones, and domestic help, but she also discovers that private school girls deal with the familiar challenges of family, boys, and friendship. When Catherine Combs visits Ivy June, she experiences the life and people of a poor coal-mining community. Written as primarily the story of Ivy June, this novel includes journal entries from both girls. The entries provide a unique change of pace, perspective, and point-of-view. The story has a strong message. The plot is slow until the final fifty pages when Catherine's mother has a sudden medical emergency and Ivy June's Papaw becomes trapped in a mine. Overcoming the strain of these events brings the exchanges together, helping them discover that stereotypes can be broken. The novel is also available as an ebook. Reviewer: Heather L. Montgomery
VOYA - Julie Watkins
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. Reviewer: Julie Watkins
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

March 6

They'll probably be polite—crisp as a soda cracker on the outside, hard as day-old biscuits underneath.

Papaw says not to prejudice my heart before I've got there. But Miss Dixon says to write down what we think now so we can compare it with what we feel after.

In the weeks I've been worrying on what to put in the old yellow suitcase—used to be Jessie's—I've taken out every last thing and tried another. I think that how I look and what I wear shouldn't matter, but I feel that anything I put on my back will stand out like a new pimple.

Shirl says those folks in Lexington are so blue-blooded that even their snot is blue, but the farthest she's been is up to Hazard or down to Harlan, same as me. We could count on our fingers the times we've been more than ten miles out of Thunder Creek, I'll bet.

Ma and Daddy don't much like me going on this exchange program. If I was still living in their house, they wouldn't let me have a stranger from Lexington staying at our place. But since I'm up the hollow at Papaw Mosley's now, they can't very well complain.

Jessie claims it's not me going to Lexington that bothers her; it's Catherine coming here afterward, and what she'll say about us once she goes back. Howard says the same, but he wants to see what Catherine Combs will do when she meets her first copperhead up on the spur.

We were all waiting for Mammaw Mosley's voice on it, because after I come back from Lexington, Catherine will be staying here for two weeks, sleeping with me in my room and eating Mosley food. If Mammaw didn't want the work and worry of another girl around, that would be the end it, because she's already got Grandmommy to care for.

"Ivy June," she says, "this may be your one chance to see what the rest of the world is like." (Not taking Africa and China into account, of course). But if Lexington's all I'm going to get, I figure I'll take it. And I've got to remember to write about it every blessed day, which is part of the program. Catherine has to keep a journal too. We're supposed to sign our names after each writing, even if we never show our journals to anyone, because putting our name on paper helps us own up to how we feel.

The hardest part will be keeping my mind open and my mouth shut.

Ivy June Mosley


It was called spring vacation in other parts of the country  but mud vacation here in Thunder Creek. The highway that bypassed the valley was paved, but the narrow roads branching off it were dirt. When the rains came, creeks and roads merged in places to become mud, then soup. All but Coal Mine Road, which was asphalt so that the big trucks didn't get stuck. Twenty or more came down that road in a single day.

Ivy June stared at the big calendar on the wall beneath the classroom clock. There were pictures of Egypt for every month. The picture for March was the pyramids, golden as the sand around them. The only connection to Kentucky that Ivy June could see was that the pyramids must have seemed like mountains to people who lived in the desert. To the people of Cumberland Gap, the huge formations that rose from the earth around them didn't just seem like mountains: they were.

Shirley Gaines was studying the map rolled down in front of the blackboard. The assignment had been to plan the routes that Ivy June would take to Lexington if she went by road, by air, and by water. The students were to name the airport nearest to Thunder Creek, and the series of rivers and roads leading north; to determine which routes were even possible; and to figure the cost of going all three ways.

Ivy June watched in amusement as her friend traced a winding blue water line with her finger. The Middle Fork turned and twisted so that Shirl was practically standing on her head as she followed it. By the time her finger got to Beattyville, she was off course and heading for Gray Hawk.

"Shirley, you missed a turn there somewhere, and you're bound for Tennessee," Miss Dixon said.

And Shirl, ever the cutup, whirled herself around and pretended to paddle as fast as she could in the opposite direction. The class roared.

Best friends, Ivy June and Shirley were sometimes mistaken for sisters. Same high cheekbones; same gray eyes, a bit on the squinty side, Shirl's in particular. Same blondish brown hair, strong arms, and skinny legs.

But it was Ivy June who was going on the student exchange with Buckner Academy near Lexington, and if Shirl was envious, she covered it with antics at the blackboard.

To Ivy June, it seemed as though this last day before mud vacation was a bit more about the exchange program than she would have liked. She was proud, but embarrassed by all the attention. The worst thing you could be here in the mountains was a swelled head. Next to being pregnant without a husband, maybe.

In seventh-grade social studies the topic was stereotypes. Miss Dixon, who taught three subjects, asked if anyone could think of a stereotype for the bluegrass people of Kentucky—the horse people.

"Stuck-up and snotty," said Shirl, again to laughter.

"Rich and spoiled," said Fred Mason. "Everyone drives a Mercedes and owns a swimming pool."

"Ha!" said Donald Coates. "Everyone owns a racetrack!" More laughter.

"Ivy June?" said the teacher. "Can you give us a stereotype?"

"They think their ideas are the best 'cause their granddaddy was . . . was Thomas Charles Harrison Caldwell the Third or something," said Ivy June, knowing she'd have to write this down in her journal. The class laughed some more. Every single thing she thought and said, almost, had to go in that journal. Her only consolation was that Catherine Combs had to do the same.

Miss Dixon only smiled. "Luke," she continued, "what about you?"

And the large boy in the frayed sweatshirt answered, "Everyone's a millionaire and don't even know how to cut his own grass."

"Well, we'll see what Ivy June has to tell us when she gets back," Miss Dixon said, "and of course, we'll get to meet the girl from Buckner Academy ourselves."

Ivy June felt a touch of sympathy for Catherine Combs just then, coming here with all that said against her. But it was Luke's remark that rang in her ears. Last summer, Luke Weller and his brothers had had to get up at five o'clock six days a week to cut grass for a lawn company up north—no vacation at all. And Ivy June truly believed that if anything happened to Papaw while she was away in Lexington, it was because of what she had made happen to Luke Weller's dad.

Meet the Author

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the author of more than 100 books. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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Faith, Hope, and Ivy June 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE is about two girls from totally different places and backgrounds who participate in a student exchange program. Although both girls are from Kentucky, one is from the bustling city of Lexington and the other is from the mountains. Ivy June is excited about her upcoming trip to spend two weeks with Catherine in Lexington, Kentucky. The exchange program was organized by their schools, and Ivy June was encouraged to apply by her family, especially her grandparents. Her name was chosen from among six names thrown into a coffee can. Although she is excited about the adventure, she worries about fitting in in the big city. She knows Catherine will no doubt live in a fancy house with indoor plumbing which will be a welcome change, but Ivy June doesn't want to end up coming back home wishing for a different life. She has been living with her grandparents for some time now. It was just getting too crowded over at her old house. She's just a short walk from her ma and pa, but being the only child living with her grandparents and her 100-year-old great-grandmother has given her more of a sense of belonging and love then she ever had at home. The idea of the exchange program is for Ivy June to stay with Catherine for two weeks. She is to attend Catherine's private school for one week, and then enjoy a week of sight-seeing during Catherine's spring break. After a week back in the mountains, Catherine is scheduled to visit Ivy June for two weeks. Both girls might be in seventh grade, but that's about where the similarities in lifestyle end. How will they get along? Can they each adjust to the vastly different economic conditions and completely different family structures they will encounter? And how will they hold up in any serious situations that might develop during their visits? Prolific children's author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is at her best in FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE. She masterfully creates two totally opposite worlds in which Ivy June and Catherine come together as friends who learn to recognize the uniqueness that surrounds each of them. Using journal entries written by both girls, Naylor reveals their excitement, nervousness, and frustration as they meet and live each other's lives. Readers will experience humor, controversy, suspense, and love as Ivy June and Catherine's adventure unfolds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a sad but great book! I love it totally awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book so far :)
Grace Johnson More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Would recomend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an amazing book. Read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sounds cool ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is sooooo good i do bielieve anyone should read this book.
Michael Rose More than 1 year ago
About what i said this morning i change my mind this book is AMAZING but sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Theresa Bruns More than 1 year ago
I am only on chapter 3 and it is already my favorite book
RetiredMSW More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Suitable for 7th grade to Adults, especially if you like stories about Kentucky and it's people. I would recommend this book to all parents who want to make sure their children learn about different cultures and beliefs, empathy and a desire to know how others live and to be appreciative of what they have. It was very entertaining and educational.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an amesing book I dont know why people hate it read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read it but my friend did and now i cant get her to shut up about it. ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This the best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the sample and thought it was going to be boring but when i started to read it more, i really started likeing it!! q:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it! Fantastic!
cookingmom More than 1 year ago
My 12 year old daughter and I read this one for our Mother/Daughter book club. My daughter isn't really into reading for fun, but just couldn't put this one down. It's a very touching story and good for pre-teens and adults. It teaches that even though we may live differently, we're all the same.
happydaze14 More than 1 year ago
This book is a great teacher and learning experience for anyone who writes for children of the middle grade. Note the descriptions and how tight the book is written along with other valuble surprises!
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Always differnt then u prodicked very intersting loved it and had a great message
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago