Reviewed by Tasha for TeensReadToo.com
Ivy's life isn't exactly picturesque. At a very young age, she is orphaned and forced to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, who really can't afford to support another child. Once old enough, she is sent to school, but doesn't even last the whole day. While running from school her beautiful red hair makes Carroty Kate, a thief who literally steals the clothes off of people's backs, catch sight of her and snatch her up.
Forced into becoming a con artist, Ivy is brought into a clan of thieves where every night she is given laudanum in order to suppress the terrible nightmares she faces. Years later she escapes, fleeing back to her aunt and uncle's house. Everyday she works in order to provide for her still-struggling family, while also fighting her addiction to laudanum.
Then one day a young painter, who instantly decides that he must have her as a muse, glimpses her. Ivy and family reluctantly agree, as the money is good, and it could have its benefits. Ivy soon realizes, though, that modeling isn't what she imagined as she deals with a jealous mother, a familiar band of thieves, a persistent addiction, and a way too controlling cousin.
IVY is a great historical novel. There is so much to learn from this brilliantly written story that it was hard to see it end. Not only are there historical facts, but also some life lessons that still apply in modern times.
Ivy was by far one of the more interesting characters that I've ever read about. She has many quirks and led a terrible life. It was great to see a fully-developed character whose personality, however weird it may be, shone throughout the story. I really liked how Ivy was so mature for most of the story, but still had a childlike aspect to her when the reader found out how much of a passion she had for animals. She was so excited by the fact of getting to work with dogs that at one point in the story it almost seemed like she had transformed herself into a girl who hadn't had any hardships.
I also really liked how Ivy learned that modeling wasn't the best thing. Even though the story is set in Victorian England, Ivy still faces the problem of dealing with jealousy and not being good enough, which is something I'm sure many people in this day and age can relate to, as well. She also shows people how much trouble an addiction can cause, and also how hard it is to break it.
Overall, Julie Hearn did a great job recreating a very real Victorian England. Fans of historical fiction will absolutely devour this book. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Ms. Hearn's work and will definitely recommend this book to many.