Moonpie and IvyMoonpie and Ivy by Barbara O’Connor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an odd little book – odd in that it combines a lovely writing style and strong characterizations with a glum story arc. Pearl has been abandoned by her mother, left at her aunt Ivy’s without a word about when she’ll be back. Pearl is understandably in a bad place because of this, not managing to endear herself to anyone around her and trying on her mother’s bad habits for size. The characters around her are intriguing, with little bits of their past visible and others hidden, like Moonpie, the only other child around.

I kept expecting more of Ivy, though – she takes care of Pearl and is kind to her, but also seems to be keeping herself at a distance (or is it Pearl, telling the story, who’s keeping Ivy at a distance?) Pearl seems to want love and validation from her aunt, but sees it all go to Moonpie, instead. The story is realistic in these regards – no false happy endings – but ultimately a downer.

I could admire a lot of things about the book, but I never quite enjoyed it. I’m not surprised that it’s been something of a shelf sitter here at the library, although I’m sure a better cover would help get it in the hands of kids who want and need stories devoid of sugar-coating.

Source: my public library

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