Moonpie and Ivy

Barbara O'Connor

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

A girl abandoned by her mother discovers the feeling of family

Pearl's mother, Ruby, just up and left her with Aunt Ivy, who's a complete stranger to Pearl. "Your mama's done gone off the deep end," Ivy says, and Pearl wonders if she'll ever come back - Ruby has always been wild and irresponsible. So Pearl is stuck with Aunt Ivy, and Moonpie, the neighbor boy whose mother doesn't want him, either, and John Dee, Aunt Ivy's Beau. But these three people seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, in a way that Pearl can't comprehend, and she feels left out. As she starts to understand what connects them, and how much she wants to be a part of it, Ruby appears.

With a vividly depicted setting, emotional truth, and a distinctly Southern voice, Barbara O'Connor shows how Pearl develops a whole new notion of what she wants, and what she deserves.


Read an Excerpt

Moonpie and Ivy
1Pearl wondered exactly when it was that her mama had gone off the deep end. Was it that day she marched into Pearl's fourth-grade class and gave the teacher what for so bad the police came and took her away? Was it that night she cut her hair off with a Swiss Army knife just to show that so-called boyfriend of hers a thing or two? Or maybe it was just last week, when she told Pearl to pack her things 'cause they were leaving Tallahassee, Florida, never to return.Pearl didn't know. But her Aunt Ivy seemed fairly sure of herself as she stood on the porch behind Pearl and said,


Praise for Moonpie and Ivy

"A winner." --VOYA

"The twin challenges of loving and being loved form the theme of another Southern gem from the author of Me and Rupert Goody . . . O'Connor keeps the beautifully simply, colloquial third-person narration filtered tightly through Pearl . . . The honesty and universality of the characters' emotions inform the real story." -- Starred, Kirkus Reviews

"There is no happy ending and no message, just the heartrending drama of Pearl's struggle to change and her search for home." --Starred, Booklist
"In this touching, emotionally honest novel by the author of Me and Rupert Goody, O’Connor’s gritty descriptions of the characters and scenery not only vividly evoke the environment as Pearl experiences it; they show that neither the people nor the place need be perfect to be a whole lot better than what Pearl’s used to." --Horn Book Magazine
"Like O’Connor’s Me and Rupert Goody, this novel set in the rural south features a spunky, independent heroine, a compassionate adult and a rival preteen peer who vies for that adult’s affection….O’Connor’s characters are just as eccentric and convincing as ever." --School Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Barbara O'Connor

  • Barbara O'Connor has written several popular novels for young readers, including Me and Rupert Goody, an ALA Notable Book, and Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and currently lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
  • Barbara O'Connor Photo by Bill O'Connor
    Barbara O'Connor


Available Formats and Book Details

Moonpie and Ivy

Barbara O'Connor

Child Magazine Best Books of the Year, Parents' Choice Award Winner
  • e-Book