If You Come Softly

ISBN: 0142406015
ISBN 13: 9780142406014
By: Jacqueline Woodson

Check Price Now


African American Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Realistic Fiction Romance Teen To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Both Elisha (Ellie) and Jeremiah (Miah) attend Percy Academy, a private school where neither quite fits in. Ellie is wrestling with family demons, and Miah is one of the few African American students. The two of them find each other, and fall in love -- but they are hesitant to share their newfound happiness with their friends and families, who will not understand. At the end, life makes the brutal choice for them: Jeremiah is shot and killed, and Ellie now has to cope with the consequences..

Reader's Thoughts


** spoiler alert ** Before I'd even finished reading this book, I'd gone onto the online catalogs of my public libraries (I belong to two) to find other Jacqueline Woodson books. It turns out that if I want any more I'll have to get them on inter-library loan, which will cost a couple of dollars each time. But I don't care. This book has been more than enough to convince me that I want to read other books by her. (And then when I read what Show Way was about, well... that was the first one to go on the request list.)If You Come Softly was meant to be a light read for me. A nice, YA romance, set in Manhattan, before I get properly stuck in to Doreen Kartinyeri My Ngarrindjeri Calling, which is a definite "heavy" read. And for the majority of the book it was just that (only with various interesting observations about names, pov, and just how wonderful the minor characters were.) Having reached the end, some of those comments feel a little petty (especially my confusion about names and pronunciation!)I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I loved this book before I reached the end. And having reached the end, I still love it, and still think it's brilliant and amazing, only for entirely different reasons.There was so much in this that spoke to me: I've already quoted a passage from Miah's point of view to Miriam. There are bits from both Miah and Ellie's point of view that I feel really speak to the LJ "RaceFail" conversations at the moment. I would love to quote them at length (and may do so).As for the ending... SPOILERS HEREAFTER:To me, it seems clear what happened to Miah (police shooting, because he didn't stop). And there's something in the fact that Ellie never mentions it that makes it all so much more real. Meanwhile, that Miah could be killed when he was so in love, so young, that just... tugs. Hurts. As does the fact that this "solved" the problem that they were dealing with: how to be together in spite of other people's opinions.I wish they'd had more time. I wish I (as the reader) had had more time. There's no way her world can be the same again, and as much as I know that fixing the relationship with her sister before Miah was killed would have been Deus ex Machina, I wish they had. I wish Ellie still had Anne. Because I want to love Anne. But I want her to love and support Ellie. And I think there's now as irreparable a rift between Ellie and Anne as between Ellie and Marion.There's *so* much in this book: the whole relationship between Ellie and Marion! That sense of abandonment, of never being able to feel totally safe... I loved that the families had their own issues. That nothing was entirely untangled, uncomplicated.So basically, yeah. How do I love this book, let me count the ways. If I hadn't been reading it in public, I definitely would have cried my way through the last three chapters.

Ravenne Cooper

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book. But to be forthright, the book was very difficult to keep focus on. I was bored with the book and felt like some scenes would be stretched and then others were rushed. But I did love the use of words used by Jacqueline Woodson. It is about a two teenagers of different races. Jeremiah is black while Elisa is Jewish. They meet each other in their new high school and become infatuated with each other. They fall in love but see how people look at them when they are seen together. They wonder why people only see skin color, and never the soul of someone. They struggle with strangers staring and even family members prejudice against colors. The ending is a shocker, revealing Jermiah to be killed by the police by an accident. His death affects Ellie deeply but she keeps him alive in her memories. I would recommend this to people who love passionate love stories.

Dayhana Vasquez

The problems between interracial couples are very hard to overcome. Especially when people you revolve around don't accept it. This book have changed my opinion in a way that made me aware of what actually goes on between interracial couples. The challenges they go through just to be with each other. And the love they carry within them is so extraordinary. That is, until death tears them apart...

Allyson (Belle)

[Review done for my Teaching Literature to Adolescents class] Jacqueline Woodson’s If You Come Softly is the story of two teenagers experiencing love for the first time. This can be an exciting and challenging time for every teenager, but Jeremiah and Ellie’s love story is complicated by the fact the he is black and she is white. Though they have different skin colors, they knew the moment they locked eyes that there was something special between them. Their friendship quickly grows to love as they bond over their difficult family and home situations. However, their relationship is not accepted by everyone, and they are constantly met with stares and whispers. Together they learn how to navigate the school hallways and the streets of New York City, enduring the challenge of an interracial relationship in a world intolerant of anything different.I could see this novel being used well in a classroom. It is relatively short so it would not be a hard read for the students, especially for middle school students. It is particularly good for a middle school level because it addresses the issue of race and interracial relationships without the use of any sexual language or acts. This could be tied into a unit on tolerance and acceptance as an example of how discriminations (racial and other) are still present in today’s society. Discreetly introducing students to issues of race and sexuality at a younger age is beneficial in developing their later views and ideas on these subjects. Teaching them about tolerance when they are at such an impressionable age will hopefully prevent them from reacting negatively to these issues when they are older.


The first time I get a hold of this book I opened it and looked how many pages it has (This has been a ritual every time a buy or borrow a book HAHA). First thing that came to my mind that this is just a light read and I can finish this within an hour or so but I also saw that the fonts are so big and there are big spaces which made me think that this story is too short, and I kept wondering how would it end, and how would it flow in just 180+ pages? It made me interested too because it has topics related to discrimination.To be honest, I don't like it. I wasn't expecting for anything because it is categorized as a Children's Book or somewhat for Teenagers, but I didn't liked the ending too. The turn of events was so quick and it didn't focus much on how Miah & Ellie's love progressed.I regret buying this book, I'm sorry but I just don't understand how this got 4 stars.


if you come softlyas the wind within the tressyou may hear what i hearsee what sorrow sees...and if you come i will be silentnor speak harsh words to youi will not ask you why, now.or how, or what you do.we shall sit here softlybeneath two different yearsand the rich earth between usshall drink our tears.-177bi-racial city romance.lyrical, simple, sweet, and as such, heartbreaking.

Caroline Saltzman

I REALLY liked this book. I started reading it yesterday, and I finished today. It was so clear and understanding. It shows me a lot of how people think and how it feels to be the victim of a stereotype. Ellie and Jerimiah are sophmores in a private school called Percy. Jerimiah is black, and Ellie is white, but that doesn't seem to matter. Since they both first saw each other they knew that they were meant to be together. Througout the story there are people who judge their reliatonship, like the private school snobs, and Ellie's sister Anne.They both have problems in their family life. Jerimiah's father cheated on his mother with this lady named Lois Ann. His father is a movie directer/producer who is really famous. When Jerimiah goes to Percy, people give him dirty looks. He wants to tell them that he isn't poor, he's actually probably richer than most of them, but at the same time he doesn't want to be treated any differently than he was at Brooklyn Tech.Ellie (Elisha) is constantly paranoid that her mother (Marion) will leave her. When she was 8, her mom left for a month, leaving Ellie all alone, with her father. Ellie's sister is a lesbian, and has a partner, but even she can't get over the fact that Ellie has a black boyfriend. After Anne's reaction to Jerimiah, Ellie can't trust anyone, she can only trust Jerimiah.I think it's really bad how everyone judges their relationship. I think that you fall in love with a person, not a gender, or race. You can't help who you love, it isn't your fault, and people should NOT judge that. This is because if they were in your position, they wouldn't want to be judged either. This story was very intruiging and it was nice to get the points of view from Jerimiah AND Ellie.

Kendall M

i LOVED this book! This book had emotions everywhere. The feelings Miah and Elle had for each other told the story of true love. Miah was Black, Elle was white, that didn't stop them from loving one another. The detail in this book was Phenomonal! The best detail it had was one Miah was running through the park with his basketball, he was thinking of Elle, basketball, his family, school, the snow twirled all around him, and then the moment he gets shot you hold your breath. I never wanted to put this book down! Personally Jacqueline Woodson is the best author ever!


Jeremiah es tiroteado y muere, y Ellie ahora tiene que lidiar con las consecuencias.Mmmm... suena como un libro alegre.Me dijeron que es muy bueno, así que voy a arriesgarme a pesar de esa sinopsis

Andrew Anthony

If You Come Softly is a love story. Jeremiah and Ellie are both new transfer students at Percy Academy. Jeremiah is an African American basketball player from Brooklyn. His father is a famous movie director and author. His parents are divorced. Ellie is the daughter of a white, Jewish doctor. She lives with her parents in a wealthy neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her mother has abandoned her twice in the past so Ellie still feels anger and mistrust toward her mother. Jeremiah and Ellie meet at school when Ellie drops her books in the hallway and Jeremiah helps her pick them up. They are immediately attracted to each other. The fact that Jeremiah’s parents are divorced and Ellie’s mother has abandoned her in the past brings them even closer, but their interracial relationship draws a lot of negative attention. Two elderly white ladies ask Ellie if she is okay because she is walking with an African American boy. A group of white boys shout racial slurs at the two of them. While their friends do not openly criticize them, they pretend not to notice. Jeremiah and Ellie have to hide their relationship from Ellie’s parent. Jeremiah and Ellie are determined to be together, but their relationship has a tragic ending. My thoughts on the book mixed. I am not very interested in love stories but the book was easy to read. If you enjoy romance, this could be the book for you.


JACQUELINE WOODSONIf You Come Softly depicts a love story between black Jeremiah and white Ellie in Manhattan, NY. Even though the book takes place in the 1990s, Jeremiah and Ellie experience racial tendencies against their relationship. Family and friends alike disdain of the match, but Jeremiah and Ellie love each other enough to ignore other people's comments. Also during the novel, Ellie struggles with her relationship with her mother, and Jeremiah has a rough time with his father relationship. Both children feel betrayed by their parent in some way and cannot forgive everything their parent has done. Ultimately, though, it is society who wins the day and decides that Jeremiah's blackness is dangerous and undesirable. Despite society, Ellie remains open-minded and unprejudiced.This novel adopts my favorite narrative form, which is alternating narratives. I love receiving multiple characters opinions as I think it adds another element to the story. Woodson's book is applicable to teenagers as it depicts a current racial prejudice intertwined with a love story. Often, teens are drawn to love stories as they, too, experience love. The inclusion of racial tendencies is important as teens should be aware of those social injustices happening around them.


I have to read it for school. Looks very interesting.

Amanda Touchton

This book was listed as a LGBTQ novel, but the book didn't really deal with any LGBTQ issues. The story is about a relationship between an interracial couple, Ellie and Jeramiah, at a wealthy private school; about how their relationship progresses, and how they deal with the outside world's response to their love.I thought the book painted a beautiful picture of two people who had a deep connection. From the moment they first see each other, Ellie and Miah are atracted to one another. The more they get to know each other, the more they click and connect. The book does a wonderful job contrasting the comfortable, happy place within their relationship, and the uncomfortable, judgemental situations they encounter outside of it. There is an intersting phone conversation between Ellie and her older sister Anne, a lesbian who lives in San Fransico (maybe this is why this book is listed as LGBTQ?) when Ellie tells Anne, her confidante, that the boy she likes is black. Anne's response is exactly the same as she received from her own mother upon telling her mother she loved another woman - concern. "I just don't want to see you get hurt" Anne tells Ellie. I thought this was very interesting. I think this would be a great book to use in a multi-cultural unit, or in a unit to learn about developing relationships between characters within a story.

Teresa Grubbs

Loved the book from the start, but I hated the ending. Ellie, a white girl, and Jeremiah, a black guy, fall in love in high school. I enjoyed seeing their tentative relationship blossom.

Sandy Mcclure

A love-at-first-sight story of two teenage students at a private New York school, this novel focuses on stereotypical responses to this racially mixed couple. Miah (short for Jeremiah) is black, and Ellie (short for Elisha) is white. Their lifestyles are anything but stereotypical. Miah’s father is a big shot movie-maker, and his mother is a famous novelist. Ellie’s mother has abandoned the family on two occasions, leaving scars that keep Ellie from sharing the details of her new romance. She does, however, tell her older (lesbian) sister about Miah. To add to the differences in the relationship, Ellie is Jewish, the daughter of a New York doctor. Surprisingly, Woodson keeps the reader on a superficial level with this couple, never exposing their innermost feelings or inviting us into any meaningful conversation between them, but focuses the story around stereotypical external responses to their relationship. She points out people staring at them, and two white women, seeing Ellie with a Black boy, asking her if she is all right. Woodson tells the story through alternating points-of-view. Ellie tells her story in first person in every other chapter, as Jeremiah’s account is told in third person. Perhaps this method is one reason this novel screams for a deeper emotional connection with these characters. The reader keeps waiting for meaningful interaction with the teenagers’ families in response to their relationship. It never comes. The reader will never be fulfilled waiting for a deeper emotional connection between Miah and Ellie. Even the tragic death of Miah is unemotionally told through a stereotypical scenario when Miah, mistaken for a criminal, is shot by police. Though dreadfully slow and emotionally detached, it is still a pleasant read for young adults, with some thought-provoking themes. I would recommend it as a high school reading resource, but would not feature it as a close reading requirement. There is no profanity or sexually explicit language.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *