Saturday, February 25, 2023

Meant to Be, by Jo Knowles

In this companion to Where the Heart Is, the focus shifts to Rachel's little sister Ivy and jumps ahead a few months to the aftermath of the family's downsizing to an apartment in the city.  While most of the family is sad about losing their country home, Ivy is much happier in this new place.  She doesn't mind that it's smaller.  And she enjoys sharing a room with her sister.  There are more kids to play with and she feels less isolated.

But having children to play with presents new challenges.  When Ivy makes an unintentionally insensitive remark to her new best friend Alice, she's surprised at Alice's angry response.  And when she quickly apologizes, she's hurt when Alice doesn't immediately forgive her.  In fact, nowadays it seems that Ivy can't say anything without offending someone.  Maybe life really was better out in the country!  But with some guidance from her older sister, the superintendent of the apartment, and some other adults, Ivy learns some valuable lessons about being patient and loving with one's friends.

I didn't remember Ivy so well from the original book, but she is fleshed out as a resourceful and intelligent (and perhaps overly precocious?) nine year-old.  Her primary talent and love is cooking and she shines in her clever ability at coming up with substitutions when she lacks specified ingredients.  That talent extends to her ability to solve the problems in her interpersonal relationships as well, bootstrapping her way through her challenges.  The author claims to also be addressing Ivy's anxiousness, but I really didn't notice much of that.  She's a bit emotional, but not in a way that seemed particularly remarkable for her age.

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