Ivy June lives in the backwoods of Kentucky and goes to a fairly small public school. Catherine lives in a big house in Lexington and attends a private, all-girls school. The two girls are part of an exchange program: Ivy June will spend two weeks with Catherine in her house and attending her school, and then Catherine will do the same, and live two weeks in Ivy June’s house.
It’s an interesting city mouse-country mouse premise, as Ivy June and Catherine each deal with their expectations about the other, and realizing not only what’s deficient about each of their lifestyles, but what’s good about them, too. Told from Ivy June’s point of view, the book chronicles the weeks through both narrative and journal entries.
Overall, it is a decent story about friendship. However, the cringe-worthy stereotypes — country folk are simple but hardworking and have a tough time expressing emotions; city folk are shallow, picky and have a tendency to overly praise their children — are off-putting. And the book becomes maudlin — enormous tragedies, grand life lessons learned. Which is too bad, because it could have been a sweet story about overcoming stereotypes. Instead, it’s heavy-handed, preachy dribble.