Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake

In Ivy's private sketches and drawings, she has confronting the confusion she feels about liking girls. It's the sort of thing she won't share with friends or family.  All of that gets literally upended when a tornado goes through town and demolishes her home.  In the confusion that follows she misplaces her sketchbook in a rescue shelter.  The sadness of losing it is replaced with horror as drawings from the book start to appear in her locker at school from an anonymous source.

The good news in all of this is that losing her home gives her some confidence to start expressing her feelings for another girl in her class.  But, this being seventh-grade, things don't go terribly smoothly and the (almost) teens fumble through their feelings and emotions in this sensitive LGBTQ middle grade story.

The tornado might seem like an awfully heavy-handed plot device but it actually fits in pretty well, providing opportunity for the young people in this story to break free of their comfort spaces.  And while it is very much present in the background, disaster recovery is not really the focus of the story.  The issue of gender identity is similarly in the background -- the children are experimenting and considering feelings like homosexuality, but even they don't feel terribly committed to any thing. Instead, the story is really centered on a more general identification of young people with their family and their peers. Part of that are Ivy's feelings towards girls and the author does a great job of showing how inalienable those feelings are from the rest of Ivy's "letter to the world."

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