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Fiction Ages 12+
Pages: 120
Themes: disability rights, euthanasia, moral dilemmas
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Sep/2012
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David’s younger sister Ivy, born with multiple disabilities, needs constant attention. She may be eleven years old, but in many ways she’s still a baby. She embarrasses him in public. She takes all of their parents’ focus, to the point where David wonders if they see him as anything more than a helper for Ivy. But despite it all, he loves her. The summer days are following their usual pattern of taking care of his sister, doing chores, and trips to the cottage. The one exception is Hannah, the new girl across the street. Hannah makes David feel anything but routine. He wants to be around her all the time. And, amazingly, she seems to be into him as well. Everything changes when Ivy has an accident while being looked after by her dad. As David wrestles with what happened to Ivy, he is forced to confront his own feelings of guilt, the meaning of mercy, and what can be forgiven.

CM Magazine
"The story flows seamlessly which enables readers to grapple with controversial ideas alongside David. What Happened to Ivy is a valuable contribution to the growing realm of extreme 'problem novels' in today's young adult literature."
Quill & Quire
[Starred review] "Stinson imbues David and the book's other characters with a level of depth that gives the story a documentary feel...The conflicted emotions are portrayed with a rawness that forces the reader to think, 'What if?' The novel also succeeds in presenting the situation in a judgement-free manner. There is no editorializing on Stinson's part, and the story's conclusion is left up in the air, allowing readers to form their own opinions of what should happen next. In a YA landscape littered with dystopia, urban fantasy, and romantic fiction, Stinson offers an important wake-up call to young readers that there is more to life, and that it's not always easy."
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"The novel is brilliant, causing the reader to really think about what it must be like to be an intelligence locked in a body with no controllable outward responses."
Canadian Children's Book News
This book tackles a very heavy subject with sensitivity and compassion for all those involved. Stinson masterfully depicts the stress that Ivy's condition puts on the entire family and their relationships, as well as the reality of David's situation.
The National Post
What Happened to Ivy will both make you cry and question your own feelings when it comes to the meaning of mercy. I recommend this smart novel to older readers looking for a book that will making them think about what it’s really like to have friends, family and people to love.
One a Day Y.A. Blog
This book was so powerful. It made me realise how little I know about people who are mentally challenged, and how very little the world knows about what their families do for them on a daily basis. It brought up so many questions and really showcased the complexities of this world.
The Waterloo Record
David's brief, but intense, story will have you on the edge of your seat. My only criticism was that is was too short — it left me wanting more!
NewPages Book Reviews
What is most refreshing about this novel is its honesty. So many novels with young protagonists shy away from giving characters real-life problems to negotiate. Stinson, however, rolls up her sleeves and really describes what it’s like to cope with a family member’s disability. She does this with great sensitivity, carefully yet frankly discussing the reality of day-to-day life...While What Happened to Ivy will undoubtedly resonate with families coping with the demands of special needs children, it can also be enjoyed for the well-wrought story that it is.

Awards

Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year Awards, Young Adult category In What Happened to Ivy, Kathy Stinson tackles the complexities of mercy killings, and all the emotions that accompany them. ... David is left to deal not only with his grief over missing his sister, but also the myriad emotions about his resentment, about his father’s actions, and about his feelings towards the girl next door. Stinson uses David to frankly and honestly address a topic most people would rather ignore, and forces the reader to think about the value and quality of life itself. | 2013 | Commended

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