Upper elementary and middle school girl readers will enjoy this true-to-life story of a 12-year-old girl. Ivy is learning how to deal with her mother's failed marriages, assuming more responsibility for her younger brother J.J, navigating the waters of changed school friendships, and figuring out Caleb, the boarder her mother takes in to help make ends meet.
Like many children in families, Ivy learns about life by eavesdropping. She listens to her mother's discussions with her best friend, "Aunt" Maureen and finds out about their love lives and about her step-father. But eavesdropping only works some of the time. When she incorrectly pieces together the information she hears Caleb telling J.J., her faulty conclusions lead her down the wrong path.
I appreciate how Chris Woodworth portrays a young girl trying to figure out who is telling the truth, who to trust, and how appearances aren't always what they seem to be. There are strong messages on the importance of honesty, facing the consequences of false assumptions, admitting when one is wrong, and the characteristics of a true friend.
I also loved Ivy's voice, which you get to hear right from the opening paragraph:
Some say you get your best education in school. Others say it's through life. I got my best education early on eavesdropping at Mama's feet while she talked to my aunt on the telephone. (p. 1)
Thanks to Joy Peskin, Chris's editor, of Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, I am giving away an autographed copy of Ivy in the Shadows. So, for those of you who didn't win a copy back in February when I posted the backstory about this book, here's another chance!
Here are the giveaway rules: