A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are some quarrels within families, as well as between friends, but that there isn’t too much to worry about. There are also issues of loss and grief, as each girl comes close to losing a close family member, one to sickness and one to a mining accident.
What's the story?
Although they live only a few hours apart in Kentucky, Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs come from two drastically different homes. Ivy June lives in the mountains of Thunder Creek, where she resides in her grandparents’ rural house with no cell phone reception and just enough means to get by. Catherine comes from a more suburban neighborhood, with white shutters, brand-name clothes, and significantly more income. To broaden their horizons, the two girls participate in a student exchange program through their middle schools to see how another girl their age lives. The two write in journals throughout the broadening journey, reflecting on their differences, but more importantly, their similarities.
Is it any good?
In this touching tale of an unlikely friendship, the message of "the grass isn't always greener" comes through clearly. So do deeper messages of self-acceptance and the importance of being a good person over having the nicest clothes -- all great concepts for middle school girls who are constantly comparing themselves to their peers.
The vast chasm between the two girls’ lifestyles seems a bit exaggerated, and borderline politically incorrect -- most rural homes nowadays don't have outhouses. But the suburban/rural exchange premise is plausible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about accepting what one has instead of wanting the material items or family dynamics of another. Is it better to appreciate aspects of your own house?
How important are material items to your family? What's more important?
Do you have friends from different backgrounds? Is it possible to set aside differences to become friends, like Ivy June and Catherine?