Author: Sharon Huss Roat
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Harper Teen for sending me an ARC of this!
ALL. THE. FEELS.
Wow this book snuck up on me. The first 100 pages or so were okay (around 3-star territory) but then about halfway I was REALLY in love with this book and didn’t want to put it down! You know you’re hooked on an unputdownable book when you’re halfway through the workday and all you want to do is go home and read! That’s how I felt about this book.
Ivy Emerson’s family is rich. Her dad has a large company, she lives in a gated mansion on the “right” side of town and is part of the elite crowd at school. Then one day it all falls down around here when she finds out that her dad’s company is NOT doing well and that they’re losing their house and most of their possessions. Ivy’s family needs to use what money they have left to keep surviving and to pay for her little brother’s therapy. So the family of five moves to the “wrong” side of town, into an apartment that is roughly the size of her parent’s old master bedroom.
Ivy’s new home is next door to Lennie, the school’s resident bad boy who apparently sells drugs. Ivy hates him from the start and she refuses to believe that the situation they’re in will be permanent. She forces her best friend to keep quiet about the fact that Ivy’s family is now poor and she goes to great lengths to hide her now home and situation. Only she can’t hie from Lennie because they go to school together.
Enter James, the new boy at school. He’s got the looks, a BMW and apparently a good taste in literature. Ivy and James spend a lot of time getting to know each other while Ivy tries to hid what her family is going through. At the same time Lennie is trying to befriend her, and she does her best to avoid him. When James finally does find out about Ivy’s family he doesn’t care, but later she friends out that James is actually very wealthy and due to some miscommunication he bails on her and goes back to his family (who he was running away from because he was sick of people only seeing him for his money).
Ivy’s secret does eventually get out and the way that she handles it just seems to real. She’s embarrassed and scared and sad. She doesn’t know who to turn to when people start to turn their backs on her. But she makes new friends, get close to an old friend, and starts to warm up to Lennie.
I loved all of Ivy’s interactions with Lennie, and I wish there had been more. I also loved how he tied back to a very important part of her stage fright and even helps her get over it when she finally plays the piano and sings in front of a crowd. I really loved the way that she misjudged him and admitted that she was wrong. I also loved the themes of friendship, how sometimes you’re just suck with the friends you have based on circumstance and how like cling to like. I was so happy when Ivy broke away from her group and did what she wanted, spent time with who she wanted, and stopped judging. And the family was so sweet. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her parents to struggle the way there were. And it shed such a sad picture on what the American lower-middle and lower class looks like.
Ivy’s piano playing and musical ability was woven so seamlessly into this. I loved how she used music to help herself understand her situation and how as she grew, her music grew, and what she allowed herself to do with the music also grew.
And finally the end. THE END! That’s what bumped it up to a full five stars. Because it gave me ALL. THE. FEELS. I love it when two characters come together and are just so right and the moment is perfect and then there’s swooning and yes. It was perfection.
Make sure to check this book out guys. It’s a hidden gem.