The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden-all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives-and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?
But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…
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by Jessica Spotswood
May 3, 2016
Sometimes being born into a family that has left a legacy of great artistic pursuits behind, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be-especially when you feel mediocre at best. Ivy has lived under the shadow of not only her grandmother, but of her aunt, as well. Her mother is another story, having ran away, leaving Ivy behind with her grandfather when Ivy is just two. Her mother had her own gift-the gift of singing. Now an alcoholic, Ivy’s mother, Erica, has lost her latest husband, her job, and her home. She comes back to live with Ivy and her professor grandfather, with her two daughters-daughters that got to grow up with a mom. However, growing up with a mother like Erica isn’t necessarily a good thing.
It’s the summer before her senior year, and Ivy is looking forward to a summer of fun. It’s the first summer that her grandfather hasn’t had her in classes the entire time. Her grandfather’s quest to find Ivy’s “thing” is seemingly unending, because in his world, all the women in the family have a special talent. Ivy’s only talent is swimming, but even in that she doesn’t stand out. She’s tired of always being judged against all the talent in her family. When her mother comes home after being gone fifteen years, Ivy’s world is turned upside down. She’s not heard one word from her mother that entire time. Erica will never win mother of the year and that’s a fact. Actually Erica was one of most horrible mother’s I have ever read a book about. Ivy’s best friend is Alex. She grew up with him, and he and his mother live in the carriage house on her grandfather’s land. Alex’s mother is their housekeeper and is a mother figure to Ivy as well. She meets Connor, her grandfather’s grad student, when he comes to the house to help with transcribing Ivy’s famous aunt’s diaries.
I loved getting to know Ivy and her two half sister’s. I also really liked Alex and Connor, but in true YA form, a love triangle of sorts is formed. Ivy has always loved Alex as a brother, but Alex has new feelings for Ivy. As far as Ivy is concerned, she is pretty much smitten with Connor from the beginning. Almost insta-love, I would dare to say. Another well used YA pitfall. Ivy’s grandfather is pretty obsessed with the legacy of the Milbourn women, and his expectations for Ivy, and now for her two half siblings, that he has just met. He’s a good man, but he is pretty relentless. Hence the reason Erica hates him, rebels, and runs away from his house when she is still under the age of twenty.
To be perfectly honest, I requested this book in error from Net Galley. I wanted to ignore it, but started it anyway- and ended up really loving the story.Yes, it has a love triangle, and is kind of insta-lovey at times, but it really was so much more than that. It was a story of a teenager trying to fit into the world, a world that has big expectations for her. Expectations that have apparently skipped her generation. It’s also the story of a woman who was never enough for her father’s expectations. She is bitter and broken and pretty awful. I enjoyed the fledgling romance between Connor and Ivy-after I got over the insta-love thing. There is one scene however, that takes this from YA territory, and a bit into new adult territory. Because of this, I would recommend this book to young adults ages 16+ to adult. It’s not full on sex, but close, while keeping everything above the waist. One surprise is the inclusion of a very young character with gender identity issues. I thought that was very timely and usually not something you find in the YA genre, This ended up being a well written read, one that I won’t soon forget.
The review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About the Author
I love books, board games, football, feminism, & Earl Grey tea. I live in Washington, DC with my playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. My other job is working as a children’s library associate for the DC Public Library. I’m frighteningly enthusiastic.
If you’re interested in interviews or guest posts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.