An American Girl Story- Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance Review

My daughter Ella is a big fan of the American Girl brand. She loves playing with their dolls, visiting their Los Angeles store, reading their books, and more recently catching their fantastic movies on Amazon Prime Video. As you might remember Ella had quite the experience the last time American Girl released an Amazon Prime Video. She was able to bring a friend to the red carpet premiere of “Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win” you can see her red carpet premiere experience + afterparty here.

An American Girl Story- Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance Review

“This post was sponsored by KidzVuz for Amazon Studios. All opinions are my own.”

This time around the story takes place in San Francisco, CA in 1976 where a young girl named Ivy Ling (BUNK’D‘s Nina Lu) is struggling to find a balance between her personal aspirations and her commitment to her family + culture. Her best friend, Julie Albright (General Hospital‘s Hannah Nordberg), has her own set of struggles dealing with her parent’s tough divorce.
American Girl Special Ivy and Julie: 1976 A Happy Balance

As many first generation parents, Ivy’s mother tries desperately to instill a love of culture in her young kids. This includes having Ivy attend Chinese school. But, Ivy has dreams of her own and when a gymnastics tournament lands on the same night as the family’s Chinese New Year celebration Ivy has to make a tough decision.

American Girl Special Ivy and Julie: 1976 A Happy Balance

Meanwhile, Julie has troubles of her own with a sister who is struggling with their parents’ divorce. The girls’ relationship helps Ivy discover that having a large family who gets along and supports you is something to cherish and she learns how to have a happy balance between her wants and the demands of her family.

I love that American Girl movies seamlessly weave a timeless plot into a historically accurate setting. It reminds our own daughters that the same struggles we face today are ones girls of the past were able to triumph over in years prior.

I also loved the unique challenges that Ivy faced as our family can personally relate. My son Shea was adopted from Ethiopia at age 4 and as his mother, I was concerned about him losing his culture. I, like Ivy’s mom, pushed Shea to attend Ethiopian events, learn cultural components of his birth country etc… until one day he told me he just wanted to “be a kid, not an Ethiopian kid, just a kid.” I remember stopping right there in my tracks, without being able to say a word. I knew he was right! I laid off and a few years later Shea began asking if we could visit Ethiopia and since then has developed a wonderful pride, on his own, for his country. The lesson parents can learn is that sometimes it is important for us to step back and get out of our kids’ way. Forcing their culture or a specific sport etc… on a child never ends well. As parents, we have to make sure we truly are doing something for our child, and not to fulfill some missing piece in ourselves.

Watch “An American Girl Story- Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance” on Amazon Prime Video beginning March 24, 2017.

Have you had a parenting moment where you realized you needed to step back and get out of your child’s way? Tell me about it in the comments below.

*This is a sponsored post, thank you for supporting Global Munchkins. All thoughts and opinions expressed above, as always, are 100% my own.


  • Very well said. As parents we need to teach are children well but sometimes we need to follow their lead. We want our children to make good decisions and they will if allow them to make small choices from a very young age. Kids are smarter than we think sometimes,

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      It’s so true! I am constantly amazed at how well kids handle situations, sometimes even better and more compassionately than adults.

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