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Title: If You Come Softly
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Number of Pages: 181 pages
Book Number/Goal: 27/75 for 2009
My Rating: 2.5/5

Ellie and Jeremiah fall in love at first sight. The fact that he's black and she's white doesn't matter to them, but it's all everyone else can see.

This had some good stuff going on. I particularly liked the chapters in Jeremiah's POV and his observations about the world...that's pretty much all that saved it from being a run-of-the-mill teen issue book. As it is, it didn't save it enough for me.

There's a lot of stuff labelled YA that I read and wonder why it was labelled that, because it doesn't seem any different from adult fiction other than the age of the protagonists. This definitely felt like something aimed at teens. It also feels kind of dated. I see it was written in 1998 and it feels more like the kind of YA I remember from when I was in jr high and high school than more recent stuff I've written. Or maybe I've just avoided reading the more hit-you-over-the-head unsubtle stuff.

Also, I guess the ending was supposed to be ~tragic~ but I just laughed when Jeremiah got stabbed, because it so reminded me of all those teen books from when I was growing up, where everyone died of leukemia or something. It didn't seem profound, just cliched. Also here it felt like a cop-out. I would have rather seen a story where they had a happy ending and made their relationship work, or else they didn't and the interracial thing was too much and they broke up, not he died before she'd even introduced him to her parents.

Anyway...those who are more fans of YA than me might like this more. And while I found a lot of it cliched and blah, the interracial relationship was handled a lot better than I can imagine it being handled by a white author, so it's maybe worth reading just for that (it's a short read). Like, I'm not sure if as a teen I ever read a book where the ~issue~ was an interracial relationship (as opposed to dying of leukemia), but I can picture very clearly how it would be written and this has much less of the hand-wringing and back-patting.

Oh, also I was really put off by the fact that it's about rich kids at prep school, but once I started reading, it wasn't really an issue. (And I did like that it highlighted that racism is universal. In my imaginary interracial teen romance by a white author, I'm sure the boy would have been from the wrong side of the tracks or whatever.)

Also, also, anyone wanting a story with a Jewish protagonist that's not about the Holocaust should check this out. Ellie being Jewish isn't a plot point, it's just there.

Mooch from BookMooch


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