Title:  If You Come Softly
Author:  Jacqueline Woodson
Release date:  January 1998
Publisher:  Speak
Pages:  208
Genre:  Middle grade fiction
Source:  Library

Ellie, an upper-middle-class Jewish girl has just started attending Percy, a New York City prep school.  On one of her first days there, she runs into Jeremiah, an African-American boy with famous parents.  Over the course of this short novel, they fall in love.  Not puppy love, either – they have the kind of mature love that many adults don’t even get to experience.  But although they are happy with their relationship, they aren’t sure the world is ready for them – including either of their families. If You Come Softly is a great book for young readers to understand some of the complex issues surrounding race today.

It seems like every one of my favorite bloggers absolutely raves about Jacqueline Woodson.  I finally got the chance to pick up one of her books, and If You Come Softly was a great introduction to the beautiful way she writes for young readers.  The relationship between Ellie and Jeremiah was completely believable – it was so much like what I remember from my first love.  Except so many teens don’t know how to have a mature relationship, and these two really did.  They truly cared for each other, they truly appreciated each other, and they would have done anything to stay together.  It was sweet and inspiring.

I am of two minds about this book, though.  Even though I loved the story and the writing and the characters, I hated the end.  The end is meant to be hated, I get that.  But I felt sort of manipulated by the author, and I’m not a huge fan of that.  I understand where she was going with ending the book the way she did, but it just didn’t sit well with me.  I closed the book thinking, “really?” and “was that necessary?”

So, yeah I liked the book.  Not all of it, but I liked it.  And I definitely think I’ll read more from Woodson.  But for those of you who’ve read more of her books, I ask you – does she do this with ALL of her endings?