cover image Moonpie and Ivy

Moonpie and Ivy

Barbara O'Connor. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35059-8

Like O'Connor's Me and Rupert Goody, this novel set in the rural South features a spunky, independent heroine, a compassionate adult and a rival preteen peer who vies for that adult's affection. Twelve-year-old Pearl lands at her Aunt Ivy's door one day when Pearl's irresponsible mother, Ruby, decides she needs a break. As the sweltering summer progresses, Pearl grows to appreciate both Ivy and her odd-looking neighbor, 11-year-old Moonpie. Postcards that Pearl addresses to her absentee mother allow readers a glimpse into the girl's feelings and confusion, and Pearl learns a great deal about her mother and her roots through Ivy's and Moonpie's stories. Those who have read Rupert Goody may feel they have traveled this road before, but O'Connor's characters are just as eccentric and convincing as ever. Although the ending is ambiguous (Ruby returns, but is that good or bad?), readers cannot help but feel that resourceful Pearl will land on her feet and that Ivy is never far away. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)