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Ivy Lee's Rue


Worth reading 😎

A touching story of a woman's lifelong battle with mental health, and the blessings and struggles family can bring.

A compassionate debut novel, Valerie Wade's Ivy Lee's Rue explores a life lived with trauma, mental illness, and the bonds that hold people together.

Ivy Lee is a spirited young child growing up in the south with her family. At a very young age she begins suffering from memory lapses, which then follow her throughout the rest of her life. Tension follows Ivy Lee's family as Ivy Lee navigates confusion and loss with an attempted joyful disposition, even during turbulent times in the family. Ivy Lee grows older as she continues to go through bouts of depression and mania, her mind working hard to protect her from the traumas of her past she can't face. Eventually, through treatment and continued navigation of family relationships, Ivy Lee must come to terms with the parts of life that her mind has been trying to hide from her.

An enjoyable, touching, and compelling read. The plot point adds representation to the topic of mental health and validation for those who struggle with it. The time period of the story is not directly addressed. However, it's clear that it is in a past time period and not current, which is articulated well throughout the descriptions of the mental health discourse and treatment modalities offered to Ivy Lee throughout her journey with doctors and hospital stays. The story foreshadows other plot points perhaps too well that there is no sense of surprise when the family secrets are revealed throughout Ivy Lee's life. However, this highlights the main character's struggle with memory and confusion as a result of her trauma and mental health struggles.

Structurally the novel follows Ivy Lee throughout childhood, adolescence, and the entirety of adulthood, with pieces that weave back through time. However, the novel length is rather short with only 138 pages. This creates some confusion in the early chapters in terms of readability and understanding the structure. This also creates a short amount of time to fully flesh out Ivy Lee as a full character, along with the other characters in the story, which was still done admirably for how short the novel is.

Grammatically and punctually the composition is smooth, though with a few minor inconsistencies and typos in each area. The pacing of the story is satisfying and because it is such a short read, it makes it easy to read in one sitting. While the writing style doesn't contain a lot of emotional depth, it does read well in a straightforward and easy manner.

Ivy Lee's Rue is a humane look at a woman's life as she struggles with mental illness, and the continued hope to reclaim life on her own terms. This story would be especially impactful for those who like the complex dynamics of family dramas and some of the ways trauma can impact a person. A worthwhile and easy read that goes down as smooth as sweet tea, with a thirst for more.

Reviewed by

Just a weirdo out here readin' and reviewin'! I love supporting all authors of any kind, especially indie authors, and I prefer books that touch the heart and maybe lead to shedding a tear or a hundred.

A New Blessing

About the author

Valerie D. Wade, author of the debut novel, Ivy Lee’s Rue and the upcoming novella, Leaving Jacksonville, is a lifelong resident of Michigan; born in Detroit and raised in Highland Park. She is a Research Administrator, alumna of Wayne State University, poet, literacy tutor, and animal lover. view profile

Published on July 24, 2022

40000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by