Yesterday, my son and I hung out at the library to do school. While he worked independently, I grabbed Jacqueline Woodson's If You Come Softly. I had recently been recommended this author by Susan of ColorOnline during a discussion on "problem novels" in YA fiction. So, I started reading it there and had to check it out so I could finish it at home.

If you Come Softly is first a teenage love story. Jeremiah Roselind, son of a famous filmmaker and a novelist, and Ellie Eisen, daughter of a doctor and SAHM, have one of those instantaneous love stories. One brief and awkward encounter leave them both with lingering thoughts about each other. At first, the most prevalent thought is that he's Black and she's white/Jewish.  Although they get over this difference quickly, strangers don't and whether their families will is questionable.  What unfolds in this story is a sometimes naive, yet sweet, youthful romance that explores racial identity and stereotypes with an unexpected ending.

I was so engrossed in this fast paced read and not sure of what I wanted to happen in the end. What did happen, I was so not prepared for. Of course, in retrospect, I do recall a bit of foreshadowing that was very subtle. This is a testament to Woodson's narrative skills. She gives hints that don't make things predictable. However, the ending still pissed me off. Woodson, why'd you have to break my heart like that?

This is a story that, for its implications of race, adults might actually learn more from. Today's young people are growing up in such multi-ethnic/multicultural societies that they have already gotten over it. It's the adults that seem to still carry the burden. What young people will get from this book, though, is that "time comes to us softly, slowly. It sits beside us for a while. Then, long before we are ready, it moves on." Carpe Diem!

Note to Susan: Thanks for the recommendation. I'm looking forward to reading more by Jacqueline Woodson. I got a copy of From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun for the read-a-thon.



10/23/2009 12:26pm

I read Hush by Jacqueline Woodson and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm glad to see that she has a selection f books that I can explore next and that so many blogger love and recommend her books.

10/23/2009 12:40pm

Thanks for stopping by Nicole. Now I have to check out Hush. And I just learned there's a sequel to If You Come Softly.

10/23/2009 2:11pm

I keep hearing about Jacqueline Woodson's books. Gotta try her out.

10/23/2009 4:51pm

I'm with Jodie. I've heard so many wonderful things about Ms. Woodson's books, especially this one. I've got to get to the library asap!

10/24/2009 1:23pm

I read If You Come Softly and I was saddened by the ending. The sequel Behind You, well, I was glad to hear from Jeremiah Roselind (yep, he's in this one) again because I liked him.

10/24/2009 8:55pm


Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I wasn't prepared for the ending either. I agree, I think adults are the ones who really benefit and catch the subtlety of Woodson's skill here. For most teens, it's a good love story. For adults, it reminds of us our hangups.

10/12/2010 12:14pm

I had a feeling something tragic would happen at the end, but I wasn't expecting it. I kind of wanted more than just that ending...I found Jeremiah very likeable, especially his mom.
Might look for the sequel.

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