Saturday, September 03, 2022

Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs, by Laurie Morrison

Ivy prides herself on being kind and for thinking of others.  She's always looking at ways she can do more to be helpful and putting the needs of her friends and family before herself.  So, it surprises her when the news that her mother has decided to be a surrogate for her friends' embryo fills her with dread.  Given what her mother is facing, Ivy knows she should be supportive.  She certainly tries!  She makes special food for her mother, tries to help around the house, avoids bringing up her own problems, and most of all keeps her fears about what her Mom is doing to herself.

Meanwhile, Ivy's mantra about helping others seems to be getting her into trouble with her friends.  She's picked up an anonymous admirer of sorts who unloads their issues to Ivy through emails.  And the more Ivy tries to help this mystery person, the more she neglects her friends and they grow resentful of being shut out.  Ivy learns that you can't make everyone happy and that if you don't take care of yourself, you probably won't make anyone happy.

Delightful and brisk middle school story about the important topic (especially for girls) of the pitfalls of self-abnegation.  Morrison gently shows how Ivy's behavior is far from benign, both in the way that it leads her to ignore her own needs and in the way that it alienates others.  While making clear that it is fine to find satisfaction in making others happy, when the need to do so becomes obsessive the motivations are no longer benevolent, but ironically ego-driven (as Ivy's friends point out to her).  Ivy's ability to begin the process of negotiating a compromise between self-caring and other-caring brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

No comments: