By: Sharon Huss Roat
Published Year: 2015
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.
And it isn’t pretty.
Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.
As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.
I was first made aware of this book through a Goodreads email. The cover sort of caught my eye, but not enough that I clicked on it. Then I heard about it again through the Debut Author’s Challenge hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl and finally read the summary. What made me want to read it was the music part of the story. I am a dancer and played the violin from 4th grade until I graduated high school so music holds a special place in my heart. It definitely appealed to me, so I added it to my TBR.
What I thought
This is probably one of the strongest Debut Author books that I’ve read this year. It definitely did not read like a first novel and I found it to be a very strong book overall.
Ivy has always lived in the same house on the right side of the tracks. Her family has always been well off and had no concerns with money. She has twin younger siblings (10 years younger), one of whom has mental disabilities. Between a bad economy and having to pay for therapies for her younger brother, her family has gone broke. They have to sell their house and move into a “small” apartment (it’s three bedrooms and three floors, one of which is an attic, but they do have a family of 5) that’s on the wrong side of the tracks. In fact, her new neighbor is the high school’s most notorious drug dealer. Ivy tries to juggle the complexities of her new living situation, her family, and trying to keep her move a secret while navigating the everyday life of a 16 year old.
I was a little surprised that I didn’t hate Ivy. It could have gone very bad with a privileged teenager becoming poor but still trying to act like she was rich around her friends. Somehow, Roat makes Ivy more than a rich snob, so that the reader doesn’t immediately want to smack her in the face. Yes, she has her moments where she is 100% a rich snob, but she has an innocence about her behavior that shows that she’s able to change who she is and grow up a little bit.
While there are bits and pieces of the book that are predictable (I’m looking at you love triangle), Roate handles it in a way that you start double guessing whether it’s really going to be predictable. I liked that even though I was 90% sure that something was going to happen, she made me question a few times whether or not I was still sure.
I also felt like Roat did a great job at developing all of her side characters. I felt like I knew Lennie, Reesa, James, and even Brady and Ivy’s mom almost as well as I knew Ivy. Over the past year, I’ve really learned that if I don’t like characters or feel connected to them, a book does nothing for me. I felt connected to these characters almost immediately and ended up finishing this book in a little over 24 hours because I liked hanging out with them.
By: Sharon Huss Roat