Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

   Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other’s homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their journals. Catherine and her family have a beautiful home with plenty of space. Since Ivy June’s house is crowded, she lives with her grandparents. Her Pappaw works in the coal mines supporting four generations of kinfolk. Ivy June can’t wait until he leaves that mine forever and retires. As the girls get closer, they discover they’re more alike than different, especially when they face the terror of not knowing what’s happening to those they love most.

Discussion Questions

  1. What were the reasons for the exchange program? Ivy June is one of only six students who competed from her school for the exchange program. Why do so few mountain kids want to participate? What did Ivy June mean when she said “Takes a certain kind of courage to be one of the six”?
  2. On page 22, Ivy June’s mother says “Don’t be tryin’ to rise above your raisin’.” What does she mean? Do you think that’s good advice? Why or why not?
  3. Why are Jessie and Ruth unsupportive of Ivy June going to Lexington? Does it mean they are prejudice?
  4. How does Ivy June feel about her grandparents compared to how she feels about her parents and siblings? Why?
  5. What does it say about family when Ivy June gives her mom the forty dollars?
  6. How do you think Ivy June felt when no one in her family offered to put the painting on the wall?
  7. Papaw tells Ivy June that the secret to happiness is to be happy with what you have. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  8. What role does Papaw play in Ivy June’s life?
  9. Why do you think it is important that Ivy June write down her thoughts?
  10. In what ways can you relate to Ivy June when she says that people looking at her all the time is tiring?
  11. How does Ivy June almost jeopardize any chance of a real friendship with Catherine during the visit to Lexington? What does Catherine demand of Ivy June in return?
  12. When Ivy June told Catherine her most important secret, Catherine disagreed. What was Catherine’s argument?
  13. Catherine’s and Ivy June’s mother and father have very different ways of parenting. Why do you think this is so? Describe the differences. Catherine says “Probably whatever way you were raised feels right to you.” How can you relate that to your own life?
  14. Could you spend two weeks in a house like Ivy June’s? What would be the biggest challenges?
  15. Why didn’t Catherine go home when her mom got sick?
  16. Why do you think Rosemary acted the way she did towards Ivy June? Do you think accepting Rosemary is the best way to deal with her? How can we accept those people in our lives that we do not always get along with?
  17. What do you think about Papaw’s “secret to life?” What do you think Ivy June wants to reach for out of life? Which is more true, Papaw’s “secret to life” (“Want what you have”), or Ivy June’s (“Reach for something more”)?
  18. What differences do you see in the way Ivy June’s community spends their time, and the way Catherine’s does?
  19. In the book, Ivy June mentions that people view her as “disadvantaged.” Do you believe she is disadvantaged? What does being “disadvantaged” really mean?
  20. What do you think Catherine felt on the first day of school compared to what Ivy June felt?
  21. Are Catherine’s experiences at school similar to Ivy June’s experiences at school?
  22. Do you feel that “making over” Ivy June was sincere?
  23. Why do you think Papaw has sacrificed so much for his family?
  24. Can money buy happiness? How can you be happy and content no matter the circumstances?
  25. Catherine says that if she lived in the Mosley family she would run away. Why do you think none of the Mosley’s have? Why is family important?
  26. How would you feel if you were Papaw and stuck in the mine for so long?
  27. What type of courage does it take to be Papaw? To be Ivy June?
  28. How do you think Catherine’s friends and family will react to the stories that she tells of her time at Thunder Creek?
  29. Describe Ivy June’s family. How would her life be different if she lived with her parents? What is Catherine’s relationship like with her grandparents? What have the girls’ learned about own families?
  30. What does prejudice mean? Who in the Mosley family is most prejudiced against the people of Lexington? How does having an open mind towards others make an experience better? What does culture shock mean? What culture shocks did Ivy June and Catherine experience?
  31. Is Ivy June worried about how she looks while at Catherine’s home? Is she concerned about what Catherine will think when she comes to her home? Are the girls embarrassed by how they look or how their homes look?
  32. Describe Catherine’s friends. How do they treat Ivy June? How does Ivy June’s friends treat Catherine? When does Ivy June and Catherine’s relationship change?
  33. Both girls have to deal with peer jealousy. Compare how Catherine’s friends show jealousy to how Ivy June’s friend Shirley shows her jealousy. When does Ivy June realize her mother is jealous of her?
  34. Do you think that Ivy June and Catherine will see each other again?