An informative, often touching novel, set in the Depression, about a 14-year-old girl whose family moves to a cheaper apartment on the Lower East Side of New York City so that the children can take advantage of scholarships to a prominent private school. Though Ivy's brother Frank, 15, and her sister Megan, 6, are content at the Holland School, Ivy hates its snobbery and is furious at their mother for sending them there. Ivy's two loves are the Catholic church and the N.Y. Public Library. (""The library had the holiness of books, the church of ritual."") Ivy wants to go to a parochial school, but her father, ""a cradle Catholic who had lapsed,"" says no. When he loses his job as an electrician, and his wife begins to work a double shift as a nurse at the hospital, the family's stress increases--and the writing deepens. The scenes of their struggle to live together under duress without ""eat [ing] each other up"" form the heart of the book, and reveal how courage can be made of small, tough moments somehow borne. The parents are beautifully drawn; and Ivy herself, prickly, interesting, and passionate, is not always winning but always believable. Slow to gather its forces; but when it does, the story deals clearly and deftly with a family in crisis.