Summer vacation, Iva Honeysuckle–style.
When Iva’s cousin Heaven pulls a card from her Daily Life deck and reads, “Pack for a long trip,” both 9-year-olds find it hard to believe they are going anywhere. Living next door to each other in Uncertain, Va., means they never go anywhere. Turns out the Daily Life card was right, and soon, both families load into cars and head to the beach on the Chesapeake Bay. Staying in a small house with six kids and their mothers turns out to be harder than anyone expected. The older cousins are boy-crazy, the little kids need constant watching, and Heaven and Iva compete for the affections of glamorous London Howdyshell, straining their already fractious relationship. Iva adds to the friction by refusing to shower or brush her teeth for the vacation. The arguing and sniping drags on the narrative, leaving few likable characters. Iva, who gets into trouble at every turn, often chooses to simply cover up her errors rather than make them right. The vacation is made more confusing by colloquialisms (“A goose walked over Iva’s grave”) that may tantalize but will make little sense to young readers.
The girls do learn that blood is thicker than water, but it takes a painfully long time to realize it. (Fiction. 7-10)