One of our recommended books is Meant to Be by Jo Knowles


Ivy loves living in Applewood Heights. The family’s apartment is tiny, and her older sister, Rachel, won’t stop grumbling about sharing a room after their old house was lost to foreclosure. But for the first time, Ivy has friends. Lucas and Alice live close by, and every week all three watch their favorite cooking show and practice baking together (even if Ivy has to find creative substitutes for the pricey ingredients). But Ivy is a worrier, and this summer there’s plenty to be anxious about. Her parents can’t wait to move to a bigger, nicer place, which is the last thing Ivy wants.

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Ivy loves living in Applewood Heights. The family’s apartment is tiny, and her older sister, Rachel, won’t stop grumbling about sharing a room after their old house was lost to foreclosure. But for the first time, Ivy has friends. Lucas and Alice live close by, and every week all three watch their favorite cooking show and practice baking together (even if Ivy has to find creative substitutes for the pricey ingredients). But Ivy is a worrier, and this summer there’s plenty to be anxious about. Her parents can’t wait to move to a bigger, nicer place, which is the last thing Ivy wants. Then Alice receives devastating news, and Ivy somehow manages to say just the wrong thing. Will Alice ever stop being mad at her?

Ivy finds much-needed reassurance, and a boost of confidence, when she starts working with the building superintendent, who teaches her how to fix things. Ivy has a natural talent, but she comes to realize that some things—like hurt feelings—are harder to fix than others. Luckily, Ivy is pretty good at making up her own recipes as she goes along. In an honest, hopeful companion to Where the Heart Is, Jo Knowles puts quirky, tenacious Ivy in the spotlight—as she tries to figure out exactly where she’s meant to be.

In a companion to Where the Heart Is, the lens turns to younger sister Ivy as she fields the joys and pitfalls of new friendship, hones her passion for baking, and resists the idea of change.

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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • April 2022
  • 224 Pages
  • 9781536210323

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About Jo Knowles

Jo Knowles is the author of Meant to BeJo Knowles is the award-winning author of the middle-grade novels See You at Harry’sStill a Work in Progress, and Meant to Be. She is also the author of the young adult novels Where the Heart Is and Read Between the Lines, among others. Jo Knowles lives in Vermont.


“Knowles has again created a thoughtful, realistic story from multiple perspectives that illustrates how some problems can’t be solved instantly. Ivy grows, as do her family and friends, and the narrative ends with a new future to tackle. Though a sequel, this novel stands strongly on its own.”–Booklist

“Strong-willed Ivy, introduced in Where the Heart Is (Candlewick Press 2021), returns with her spunky personality undiminished. . . Her nine-year-old viewpoint on experiences of friendship, baking, watching cooking shows, fixing things (her true forte), and her general worries are sure to resonate with young readers, especially fans of the Junie B. Jones series.” –School Library Connection

Meant to Be shines a light on the wonderful, kindhearted kids who sometimes fall through the cracks. Ivy’s voice—and her bike-fixing, pancake-making, friendship-mending determination—will stay with me for a long time.”–Kate Messner, award-winning author of The Seventh Wish

“A wonderful, tender-hearted story of friendship, empathy, and baking lessons with vivid characters that will resonate with all those who long to have things stay the same in a world that is always changing.”–Christina Diaz Gonzalez, award-winning author of The Red Umbrella

Meant to Be will melt your heart like butter on a sunny day. Ivy is energetic, optimistic, and funny. We all need Ivy in our lives, especially now.”–Debbi Michiko Florence, award-winning author of the Jasmine Toguchi series

Discussion Questions

1. What are some reasons that Ivy likes living in the apartment building better than in their former farmhouse? What does Ivy’s sister, Rachel, miss about living in the farmhouse and dislike about the apartment building? How do Ivy’s parents feel about the two places?

2. Discuss the relationship between Ivy and Rachel. How are they alike? How are they different? Describe some times that they get along and other times when they don’t.

3. What are some of the things Alice, Ivy, and Lucas each worry about? How do they try to help one another?

4. What positive qualities does Ivy show in how she interacts with other people? Give exam- ples from the story that demonstrate those strengths. What do Alice and Lucas like about her? What does Donnalyn like about her? How do other people in the apartment building react to Ivy?

5. When Ivy tells Alice, who’s feeling sad about her mother, that there’s a “bright side,” Alice yells at Ivy, “That was a really insensitive thing to say!” (p. 94). Lucas also says to Ivy, “Sometimes you are a little too pushy and don’t think before you speak” (p. 142). Do you agree with Lucas and Alice? Later, Ivy reflects that she has been “pretty selfish” (p. 188). Do you think this is true? Does Ivy learn to be more sensitive?

6. One of Ivy’s strengths is that she’s inventive and can figure out new ways to use mate- rials. When does this come up during their baking projects? How is she inventive when fixing up a bike for Alice? Give other examples from the story.

7. What is Lucas like? Describe his relationship with his father.

8. Describe Alice’s personality. Why is she always looking through the keyhole of her apart- ment door?

9. Why does Ivy get upset when Alice says that living at Applewood Heights “means you failed” (p. 19)?

10. Who is Becka? What is Ivy’s reaction to the news that Becka is moving away? Why do Alice and Lucas say that everyone moves? How does that make Ivy feel?

11. What do the three friends like about the Bake It to Make It! television show? Describe some of the baking challenges they try. What strengths does each of them bring to their baking projects? What do they put in their notebooks?

12. Who is Miss Beverly? How does she become involved with their baking, and how does she help them?

13. Explain how Ivy helps Donnalyn in the workshop and around the building. Why does Ivy enjoy fixing things in Donnalyn’s workshop? What is Donnalyn like? How does she treat Ivy? What advice does she give Ivy about dealing with other people?

14. Ivy’s upset to find her parents and sister looking at photographs of houses they dream
of moving to one day. Her mother then apologizes for the “emotional roller coaster we’ve put you on” (p. 187). What does her mother mean? What aspects of Ivy’s life have been like an emotional roller coaster? How does Ivy handle stress? What is Ivy’s reaction to her mother’s apology?

15. Describe the scene in which Ivy gives Alice the bicycle. Why is Ivy worried about how Alice will react? How does Alice react? Explain how Ivy managed to fix up the bike and how much work it took.

16. People around Ivy use sayings like “Where there’s a will there’s a way” (p. 101) and “The customer is always right” (p. 177). Discuss the meaning of these sayings and others in the book. Why do you think people use old sayings like this? Do they offer useful advice? Use examples to make your points.

17. Even though Ivy is annoyed by some of the sayings, at the end of the book she finds one she likes about “living in the moment” (p. 215). What does it mean to her? What has she learned during the story that makes her think living in the moment is important?

18. The story explores the question of what makes a place a “home.” Ivy quotes Rachel as saying, “A house doesn’t make a home; people do” (p. 18). What does that mean? Why does Ivy say she likes that idea? How is this idea important in the novel?

19. Talk about the book’s title and look at places where it comes up in the narrative. Why does Alice’s grandmother say that if Stevie comes back, it was “meant to be” (p. 52)? Discuss how Rachel explains a related saying and then observes, “I don’t think you’re supposed to apply that saying to people” (p. 126). How is the phrase used on the last page of the book?



Chapter One


It was Saaaaa-turrrrrrr-dayyyyyy(!), my favorite day of the week! I had just finished up my business in the bathroom and was heading back to the bedroom I share with my big sister, Rachel, when Dad hollered after me.


I giggled as I danced down the short hall. “Everybody poops!” I sang, hopping on one foot to get the ants out of my pants. That’s what my mom calls it when I can’t sit still because I’m so excited.

“You are so gross,” Rachel said in a sleepy voice when I hopped into our room. “And too loud.”

Rachel had just turned fourteen and acted like a real teenager, sleeping late and always complaining about how much I embarrassed her.

“Hmph,” I said. “Some people have no sense of humor.” I slid aside the purple shower curtain that divides our tiny room in two. Rachel rolled over and pretended to go back to sleep. Booorrrring. She was no fun anymore. Ever since we moved to this apartment a year ago, she’d become a real grump.

Before we moved here, we lived in an old farmhouse my parents had been fixing up. My mom called it a “labor of love,” but to me it just seemed like a lot of hard work. She spent all her free time painting walls and sanding floors and doing all kinds of stuff to make the old house look nice. We also had a small garden, so when my parents weren’t inside fixing up the house, they were outside weeding and planting and doing chores. They were always busy, busy, busy, with no time to have fun. Then they had some money troubles and the bank took the house away from us, and we had to move here, to Applewood Heights.

Living in the apartment is very different from living at our old place.

First, the apartment is a lot smaller, which means I get to share a room with Rachel. At our house, if I had a bad dream, I had to run to Rachel’s room for safety, which was scary because I had to go out to the hallway all by myself in the dark. In our apartment, if I have a bad dream, all I have to do is whisper from my side of the curtain and Rachel will say, “It’s OK. It was only a dream.” And I feel safe.

Second, and best of all, I have friends right in my own building. At our house, I didn’t have any friends in the neighborhood, and in the summer, most of the kids I knew went to camp. It was lonely! Sometimes Rachel and her best friend, Micah, who lived down the street, let me tag along with them, but it wasn’t the same as having my own special friend to play with. At Applewood Heights, I have two special friends, Alice and Lucas. And anytime I want to see them, all I have to do is hop in the elevator and knock on their doors!

Our cat, George, who’d been sleeping on my bed, stood and stretched. His soft fur was all staticky, and he looked like he’d put his paw in a light socket. He hopped onto Rachel’s bed and padded quietly up her side.

“George!” Rachel moaned from under the covers. “Get off!”

I made a face she couldn’t see and scooped up George, then slid the curtain back, shutting myself off from Miss Grouch.

It was Rachel who had persuaded my mom to buy the purple shower curtain to hang between the ends of our beds, which practically touched because the room was so small. The curtain acted like a wall so that Rachel could sort of have her own room. I didn’t see why she needed so much privacy.

My mom said we could decorate our sides of the curtain however we’d like. Rachel decorated her side of the curtain with silly emoji faces and pictures of her and Micah. Leaving him was one more reason Rachel was so sour about having to live here. I decorated my side of the curtain by taping up some of my best drawings, including one of George, of course, and our pony, Rainbow. We had to give him away when we moved. He was what I missed most about living at the farmhouse. Even though he was old and lazy, he would let me sit on his back while he ate grass in our yard, and Rachel read to us from a lawn chair. I liked to braid his mane and tell him secrets, as if he was my best friend. Luckily, we found a good home for him at the fancy house across the street. But I still missed him. Whenever I looked at my drawing of him, I felt a twinge of sadness. But I knew he was happy in his new home — just like me!

I changed out of my pjs and into shorts and a T-shirt and left Rachel to go back to sleep. It was my favorite day because I got to watch the cooking show Bake It to Make It! with Alice and Lucas.

“Ivy!” my mom called from the living room, where she was drinking coffee with my dad. “What kind of pancakes are you making us?”

“I need to check my options,” I said.

“I’m sure whatever you make will be delicious!” my dad called back.

Not to brag, but I knew he was right. Ever since Alice and Lucas got me hooked on Bake It to Make It!, I’d learned how to cook all kinds of things. Pancakes were just one of my many specialties.

On the show, three contestants competed each week. They got a small batch of surprise ingredients presented in a pot called “the Pot- Pourri” and had to make something delicious out of them. After the show, Alice, Lucas, and I would gather the same ingredients and try to re- create the winner. Sometimes the ingredients were too expensive or hard to find. When this happened, we let Lucas’s dad, Mr. Stevens, choose a surprise replacement.

One time we made something called “Nutsations.” The Pot-Pourri ingredients that day were peanuts, butter, and confectionary sugar. We smashed up all the ingredients until they were smooth and then formed the dough into little buttery balls. We shared them with people we knew in the building, and they were a huge hit. Another time we made a treat we called “Beet- Its.” The ingredients that week were canned beets, condensed milk, and limes. Those were a lot less popular.

I had one hour to make pancakes before the show started. Plenty of time to create a masterpiece. First, I checked the fruit bowl. There was one too- brown banana and a kiwi that looked fuzzier than it should. Yuck. But in the fridge, I found half a jar of raspberry jam. Perfect.

I turned on the little radio next to the fridge and did my signature happy dance, which involved a lot of bum wiggling, while I put everything together. My favorite was mixing ingredients with a special flick of the wrist, the way Dustin Kendal, one of the judges of the show, did when he demonstrated how to make something.

“How’re the pancakes coming along?” my mom asked as she walked into the kitchen for more coffee.

“I have everything under control,” I told her confidently. “You’re in for a real treat.”

“I wouldn’t expect any less,” my mom said. She and my dad had only watched the show a few times, but they were both grateful I loved it so much, especially since it meant I’d learned how to make them delicious treats.

I spooned dollops of batter into a pan and waited for the telltale bubbles to form to let me know it was time to fl ip them over. But before I did, I used a teaspoon to swirl a little jam on top of each one to make a pinwheel design.

“Gor-gee-oh-so!” I said in my best Carly Lin impression. She was the other judge on Bake It to Make It! and had a way of adding syllables to words when she wanted to give them extra emphasis.

When the pancakes were ready, I found some maple syrup in the fridge and poured it into a pretty pitcher. Too bad I didn’t have real raspberries for a garnish, but they were too expensive.

“Breakfast’s ready!” I sang, after I’d plated the pancakes for my parents. That’s a fancy word for arranging the food on a plate just so. Dustin and Carly say that how you plate a dish is important because it makes a good first impression.

“Should we get Rachel up?” my mom asked.

“Taste them first,” I said. “See if you think they’re worth the risk.”

“Good idea,” my dad said, winking at me.

“Oh, be nice,” my mom said. “It’s not easy being a teenager.”

“Try being nine!” I said. I gave them their plates and passed the maple syrup pitcher.

My dad made a big show of acting like Carly Lin as he cut a small piece of pancake with his knife and fork. He chewed carefully and slowly to make sure he got every piece on his taste buds before swallowing.

My mom took dainty bites the way Dustin Kendal always did. She closed her eyes in concentration while she nibbled and finally swallowed. “Simply divine,” she said in Dustin’s southern accent.

“A perfect balance of maple and fruit,” my dad agreed. “You’ve got a winner!”

I nodded, unsurprised. Then I made myself a plate and joined them at the table, which was way too big for the space and took up most of the dining area. My mom had insisted on keeping it because my dad had made it from the wood of an old pine tree that had fallen on our property at the farmhouse.

My mom seemed to miss the house more than any of the rest of us, even Rachel. Once I saw her running her hand along the table, as if she was remembering a special meal we’d all shared there, and it gave me a horrible ache in my chest. It seemed like my family was always remembering how special our old place was and wishing we were still back there. No one seemed to think we could fill this place with special memories, too.

Whenever they talked about moving again, it made me feel scared and worried, like I felt the last time we moved. I’d put my fingers in my ears and sing, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!” to make them stop talking. Rachel always shoved me when I did this and said not to be a baby. And then my mom would tell Rachel to be more sensitive.

Moving was a sore subject between us. But I was determined to prove to Rachel and my parents, too, that they could love Applewood Heights as much as I did. I just had to figure out how.

I shook off the thought and took a big bite of my raspberry- swirl pancake. “Mmmm- mmm,” I said, tasting the sweet and tart raspberry on my tongue. “Should we tell Rachel how good these are?”

“You snooze, you lose,” my dad said, helping himself to seconds.

My mom rolled her eyes but didn’t disagree.