What Happened to Ivy

Published by Second Story Press

David must ask: what is guilt, the meaning of mercy, and what can and can’t be forgiven?

Age Level

Grades 6 to 10

Curriculum Connections

Family, friends, disability, death

Discussion Questions

David feels like an outsider within his own family and among kids at school. Does he seem like someone you'd want to be friends with? Why? Why not?

Why do you think Hannah is spending time with David? How does Ivy's death change things? Or does it?

What's the worst thing you've ever done to your brother or sister? Have you ever told anyone?

How would you explain the different ways that the characters in this book react when they learn what really happened to Ivy? Do you think their reactions were realistic? Why? Why not?

How do you personally feel about the decision David's father made?

What do you think will happen in the days and months after this novel ends? Is what you think will happen the same as what you think should happen?


To her list of already impressive accomplishments, Kathy Stinson adds the distinction of taking on one of the most controversial social issues of our time… a thoughtful, nuanced exploration of mercy killing for readers aged 14 through 17.

CM Magazine

What is most refreshing about this novel is its honesty… Stinson’s candor may earn her a few new readers… [She] has created a very relatable protagonist in David. His unfiltered thoughts and feelings ring true, making his walk through the aftermath of his sister’s death a worthwhile trip to take.

NewPages Book Reviews

This is such an important book – one that belongs in school libraries and classrooms. It is an intense subject matter but written in a comfortable, pleasantly simplistic style that makes it perfectly suitable for middle graders and younger teens.  There are things in this book that can be applied to more than a sibling with disabilities…

A Belle’s Tales, April 2017

Its bare bones are strong enough to support a complex examination of humanity and the connections that are strained when a much-loved child with physical challenges dies. Without criticizing or defending any attitudes, Kathy Stinson allows compassion to steer the questions and the telling of What Happened to Ivy.

CanLit for LittleCanadians

What Happened to Ivy will both make you cry and question your own feelings when it comes to the meaning of mercy. I recommend this smart novel to older readers looking for a book that will making them think about what it’s really like to have friends, family and people to love.

National Post