Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
First Published: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Friendship, Introspection
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
Ivy knew that wondering was what life was all about. Wondering was how you found yourself.
This book is an explosion of emotions.
I did not expect to be reading a middle grade story. This is my fourth book from this author, and I was sure I knew her style and genre of choice by now, but this just shows that authors will try different things—sometimes it works for them, sometimes it doesn’t.
Well I sure hope Ashley Herring Blake will surprise us with more middle grade reads in the future. This is a powerful debut in that genre. It is not without flaws but I’m sure the author will learn from her mistakes and present us with something even more splendid next time.
But let’s take a break from predictions of the future and focus on IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD. How I wish there were LGBT middle grade books with characters that are questioning their sexuality when I was around eleven. Perhaps there were, but not in my library. So there was no heroine I could go to for answers as I was wondering if I was in love with my best friend. Yes, that did happen to me. Glad to know, nine years later, that I wasn’t the only one. (LOL)
Ivy knows that she doesn’t think about boys the way her sister and her best friend do. But she doesn’t know for sure if she’s lesbian—that word, by the way, never comes up. She questions herself. Somehow, when she meets June, she finds answers but even more questions also. After she learns that her notebook, in which she spilled her deepest secret, disappears, Ivy becomes anxious and tries everything to find it back. What if it falls in the wrong hands—her sister, for instance?
This author is known to write in the first person point of view, so I was surprised when she switched to third person for this book. More often than not, I wished I could get Ivy’s thoughts directly, without going through the omniscient narrator. Also, the names of the characters are repeated an exaggerated amount of times on each page. It was as though the author feared we would forget them—seriously?
Last thing: Because Ivy is so introspective and asks herself so many questions, she often forgets to interest herself in other people, meaning that the only person we get to know well enough to connect with on a meaningful level is Ivy herself. At the same time, this *may* be why I came to love Ivy with all my heart… She is relatable, good-heartened and insightful. Perfect trio.
Despite the imperfections, this remains an important and beautifully-told story. Shelves would be lucky to possess it.
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