A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A lot of reflection on the importance of overlooking differences to form friendships based on what really matters. Characters focus less on materialism as the novel progresses.
Positive Role Models
Catherine and Ivy June each decide to learn about, accept, and put aside the differences of the other, even rejecting some of the beliefs of their own families and friends to do so.
Violence & Scariness
A mining accident is described in detail and a few deaths are mentioned. A main character's mother falls very ill. Families quarrel.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Relationships stay at the “crush” level, with some flirting and kissing between the middle schoolers. Some talk of boyfriends, flirting, kissing, and bras. One mention of an illegitimate pregnancy: “…except being pregnant without a husband.”
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Products & Purchases
Jell-o and a few other brand names are mentioned.
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.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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