What Happened to Ivy

FIC Stinson, Kathy. What Happened to Ivy. Second Story Press, 2012. 120 pp., pb. ISBN 978-1-926920-81-8. $11.95.

Inspired by the Robert and Tracy Latimer story where the severely disabled daughter is euthanized by her father, the author wrote this teen novel to deal with the controversial subject of mercy killing.

David is a fifteen year old and a large part of his days are spent looking after his severely disabled sister, Ivy, who has cerebral palsy. It puts a damper on his social life, and he gives up hope of getting Hannah, the new girl across the street, to become more than just his friend. Then everything changes when Ivy drowns while swimming in the lake with her father on a trip to the family cottage. Although Hannah and his mother do not think it was anything but an accident, David begins to suspect his father played a role in Ivy’s death. Even though there were many things David resented Ivy for – the embarassment she caused, the care she required from his parents, the fact that she ruined a lot of things for him – there were many things he loved about her. David is filled with grief and anger at his father as well as feelings of guilt over his resentment of Ivy and the way he often treated her. As in the Latimer case and other mercy killings, David wrestles with moral questions that all of us have struggled with, as he tries to decide in his own mind what is right, what is merciful, and what can be forgiven.

Written with sensitivity, this novel presents all the emotions and dilemmas involved in dealing with a severely disabled child. Feelings of guilt and anger are felt by the family members as well as love and compassion. This book would be an excellent novel study with lots of great discussions about David’s life dealing with a disabled sister and the topic of mercy killing.

Recommended for secondary libraries and as a novel study.

Recommended grade level: 8-12 Date: July 2013

Reviewer’s Name: Rosemary Anderson Position: Retired Teacher Librarian

Institution: W.L. McLeod Elementary School District: 91, Nechako Lakes