A young woman struggles against the expectations and messy history of her family.
In Ivy's small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore, everyone knows the curse of the Milbourn women. Incredibly talented yet tragic, the women die young, leaving behind their poems or paintings and their daughters. Ivy's mother, Erica, though, just left, dumping Ivy with her grandfather. Now 17, Ivy is looking forward to a summer without all the classes and activities Granddad has always enrolled her in, searching for her talent. But the white teen knows she's mediocre and will never live up to his expectations. And then Erica—immature, angry, and resentful—returns with her two other daughters in tow. It's just one more thing for Ivy, who's also coping with the attentions of her handsome, Mexican-American friend, Alex, who seems to want more from her, and her own interest in charismatic, dark-skinned Connor, one of her grandfather's students. Somehow, Ivy must determine whether to embrace the expectations, crumble beneath them—or set her own course. Ivy is sensitively portrayed, her struggles believably met at every turn. While some secondary characters, such as Erica and Connor, are perhaps not nuanced enough, Ivy's journey is handled perfectly, and it’s her story at heart.
For anyone who suffers from too-heavy expectations, Ivy will ring true in this engaging, nearly flawless coming-of-age novel. (Fiction. 14-18)