Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: June 2009
From the book
They'll probably be polite--crisp as a soda cracker on the outside, hard as day-old biscuits underneath.
Papaw says not to prejudice my heart before I've got there. But Miss Dixon says to write down what we think now so we can compare it with what we feel after.
In the weeks I've been worrying on what to put in the old yellow suitcase--used to be Jessie's--I've taken out every last thing and tried another. I think that how I look and what I wear shouldn't matter, but I feel that anything I put on my back will stand out like a new pimple.
Shirl says those folks in Lexington are so blue-blooded that even their snot is blue, but the farthest she's been is up to Hazard or down to Harlan, same as me. We could count on our fingers the times we've been more than ten miles out of Thunder Creek, I'll bet.
Ma and Daddy don't much like me going on this exchange program. If I was still living in their house, they wouldn't let me have a stranger from Lexington staying at our place. But since I'm up the hollow at Papaw Mosley's now, they can't very well complain.
Jessie claims it's not me going to Lexington that bothers her; it's Catherine coming here afterward, and what she'll say about us once she goes back. Howard says the same, but he wants to see what Catherine Combs will do when she meets her first copperhead up on the spur.
We were all waiting for Mammaw Mosley's voice on it, because after I come back from Lexington, Catherine will be staying here for two weeks, sleeping with me in my room and eating Mosley food. If Mammaw didn't want the work and worry of another girl around, that would be the end it, because she's already got Grandmommy to care for.
"Ivy June," she says, "this may be your one chance to see what the rest of the world is like." (Not taking Africa and China into account, of course). But if Lexington's all I'm going to get, I figure I'll take it. And I've got to remember to write about it every blessed day, which is part of the program. Catherine has to keep a journal too. We're supposed to sign our names after each writing, even if we never show our journals to anyone, because putting our name on paper helps us own up to how we feel.
The hardest part will be keeping my mind open and my mouth shut.
Ivy June Mosley
It was called spring vacation in other parts of the country but mud vacation here in Thunder Creek. The highway that bypassed the valley was paved, but the narrow roads branching off it were dirt. When the rains came, creeks and roads merged in places to become mud, then soup. All but Coal Mine Road, which was asphalt so that the big trucks didn't get stuck. Twenty or more came down that road in a single day.
Ivy June stared at the big calendar on the wall beneath the classroom clock. There were pictures of Egypt for every month. The picture for March was the pyramids, golden as the sand around them. The only connection to Kentucky that Ivy June could see was that the pyramids must have seemed like mountains to people who lived in the desert. To the people of Cumberland Gap, the huge formations that rose from the earth around them didn't just seem like mountains: they were.
Shirley Gaines was studying the map rolled down in front of the blackboard. The assignment had been to plan the routes that Ivy June would take to Lexington if she went by road, by air, and by water. The students were to name the airport nearest to Thunder Creek, and the series of rivers and roads leading north; to determine which routes were even possible; and to figure the cost of going all three ways.
Ivy June watched in amusement as her...