Friday, February 26, 2010

If You Come Softly - Jacqueline Woodson


I think I've established that through my reading of three Jacqueline Woodson novels over the past six months, I am officially a fan. All of the books I've read have been of the YA genre, and address various forms of black and white issues, with other hot topics thrown in for flavor. Woodson's books tend to be relatively short...150 pages give or take...but overflow with emotion and gravitas. It is a true talent to be able to say so much in so few words.

So when I read a review of this book (sorry, I cannot recall who wrote the review) it was an impulsive library request. This is why I can't remember whose review inspired me...I read it, then immediately log into the library website to order. I needed another Woodson fix.

Ellie and Miah both go to a high-end private school in NYC. They each have their own problems at home. Ellie's mother has walked out on their family twice over the years, which has created some distrust and abandonment issues. She is virtually an only child because her siblings are much older. Miah's father, a famous Hollywood director, had an affair with a family friend and now lives with the fling across the street from Miah's mother. Both are lonely, and find a kindred spirit in each other. Theirs is an intense, first love. The only problem is that Ellie is white and Jewish, and Miah is black. People stare. Ellie's lesbian sister refuses to speak to her. Will they ever be able to have a "normal" relationship without being judged?

This book is precious. It not only captures the magic and depth of first love, but addresses some pretty heavy topics...the public's nonacceptance of bi-racial couples, infidelity, same-sex unions, to name a few. But not with a preachy or overblown attitude. There are no stereotypes - that is not Woodson's style. Instead, the tone is gentle, delicate, unassuming and beautiful.

Woodson continues to impress. Just one word of warning...have your tissues ready. She will make your heart ache.

5 out of 5 stars



18 comments:

Missy B. said...

I have this book in my TBR stack....it sounds wonderful! Thanks for the review...I can't wait to read it.

farmlanebooks said...

Sounds fantastic! I love a book that needs a box of tissues on hand!

JoAnn said...

Sounds like an author I should try... great review!

Julie P. said...

You've convinced me that I need to check out this author.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I loved loved loved this book! There is a sequel too but I have inexplicably not read it yet.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Looks like I need to get this one. I read Hush and I was impressed by her ability to cover a lot pf ground in so few pages. Her books never feel short, but just right. And I can never just speed through them either. They have to be read with care.

bermudaonion said...

I keep reading great things about Woodson's work - I'm adding her to my list of authors I need to try. Great review!

heidenkind said...

Sounds like you're a fan girl! :)

Frances said...

I have not read this book but I am a huge Woodson fan from the picture books on. And I need to start reading more YA now too as my school next year will be PK-8. So one more for the list ....

Trisha said...

I find the lesbian sister's non-acceptance intriguing, and it makes me want to read this! Thanks for the review.

ds said...

As you are such a fan, then I must look into Ms. Woodson's work. Thanks for the review, and the recommendation!

Staci said...

Make sure you read the sequel to this one...heartbreaking too!!!

Nymeth said...

Isn't it a brilliant book? It amazes me that she can tackle so much (and so well too!) in so few pages.

Kathleen said...

I read this one recently too and LOVED it. It definitely brought me to tears and that isn't easy to do. I love her writing and the way she handles difficult subjects with such a deft hand. I will definitely read more of her work after reading this one.

Alice Teh said...

5 of 5! Wow! Looks like another one to go into my wish list. Thanks for the review, Sandy!

Zibilee said...

I had not yet heard much about this book, but it looks to be an awesome read! I am glad that you were so impressed by it and I will be looking out for it. I have never read anything by Woodson, but she sounds like a writer to watch. Great review, Sandy!

caite said...

I have only read three to your five Woodson books, but I too am a big fan. It is amazing the number of topics she can touch upon, and in such a light way, in so few pages. I am due for a Woodson fix soon myself and I think I know which one it will be. Great review.

Anna said...

This sounds really good. I'm always looking for books that pack a punch but aren't very long.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric