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Summary: There is nothing 12-year-old Olivia Weems (who goes by the name Livy Two) loves more than her guitar and writing songs. Her dad is still sick, bills are piling up, and after Christmas they have to move to Grandma Horace's house in stinky Enka. Livy Two knows that she can turn everything around ... if she can get to Nashville. Her plan to run away is spoiled first by her nosy sister Myrtle Ann, and then by Mr. George Flowers, who had previously said her daddy's songs had promise. She returns home to the mountains with her dreams crushed and relationships broken. Grandma Horace had given Livy Two her mother's girlhood diaries. If her dreams can't come true, then can she make her mother's dreams a reality? This is the third title of this series set in 1960s Appalachia.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 4.5
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is the only book in the series our library could find. Now I need to find and read the others. By allowing Livy Two to tell the story, she creates a very personal way for the reader to connect to the events and characters in Maggie Valley, as well as interpret the feelings of various Weems family members.
Pros: Beautiful writing and realistic characters introduce middle grade readers to people and a way of life that is both historic and timeless.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a wonderful story and you'll want to revisit the Weems family over and over again.
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Educational Themes: There are a number of well-developed characters that readers can explore, including Livy Two, Emmett, Jessie, and Grandma Horace. More valuable for today's readers, though, will be the information about life in rural Appalachia in the 1960s: rural libraries, S&H green stamps, bartering, family choices and sacrifices, career choices for women, etc.