If You Come Softly

ISBN: 0142406015
ISBN 13: 9780142406014
By: Jacqueline Woodson

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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

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.

Becky Tucker

** spoiler alert ** This was novel about a romance, but it dealt more with the social issue of race than anything, so it was a social commentary novel as well. I really didn't like it. The only redeeming part of this book was the very last couple chapters and even those seemed a little bit cheap. The rest of the book had poor dialogue and I didn't buy the characters really at all. They didn't talk like teenagers and the lingo Woodson tried to use was not good. It makes an interesting comment about race, which is that racism is still a problem today, especially when it comes to interracial relationships. That is where a lot of hidden racism comes out. So, it was an important social issue, but the book itself was poorly written. It was about a young black man who falls in love with a young white girl and they face racism from both ends and prejudice against their new relationship. It discusses a lot of family issues, such as divorce and feelings of abandonment, but offers no real solution to such problems. Overall, I did not like this book, although the point it makes about race is important and largely true.

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...


I never really thought of bi-racial romance that much because nowadays, it is just normal. However, of course, way back, it wasn't. So it is just normal to pretend that we are in a forbidden era when reading this book. However, I really didn't get this book a lot. Of course it is romantic and I have to admit that I liked the book cover even! But I never had the passion nor the happiness, nor even the fulfillment of accomplishing anything after reading this. I find it a little sad and really compelling but it never made me cry any other way. I guess that's not the point and I am just being a stinker :|. I think that bi-racial romance is actually not bad because mixed races are usually more attractive and more stable sometimes. Like how half-bloods can be fluent on two languages? Anyways, I think that their romance is very sad but I also think that the way their romance started is kind of fast. They just knew each other after bumping into one another, the next day, they can't take off each other's thoughts. It's a little unbelievable to me. I guess you can say I am not really a believer of love at first sight.


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.

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.

Linda Lipko

I've read almost all of this authors books. She is an incredible writer who deals with difficult subjects without over reaction. Her style is lovely and lyrical, and she is one of my favorite authors.In this book she writes of two 15 year old young adults who attend a prestigious private school in NYC. Jeremiah is African American; Ellie is Jewish and white. Jeremiah's movie producer father left his mother in pursuit of a younger woman. Ellie's mother abandoned her family twice, thus leaving her with a sense of mistrust of relationships that can last.As the two form a very significant bond; they face a lot of bumps in the road. Again Woodson writes in a wonderful fashion. While two teenage people falling in love might sound trite, I would recommend you read this to see the magical way in which the reader is pulled into the story.

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.

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!

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.


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


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.

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.

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.

K. Bird

I didn't know about Jacqueline Woodson. I don't even remember where I got the recommendation to read her books.But I'm glad I know now.If You Come Softly is about a Jewish girl and Black boy at a mostly white New York prep school who come together in love.No, it's not what you think. There are some obvious ways this story could have been addressed, but Woodson chose a more lyrical, complex route than what I've come across before.Their coming together is portrayed as a love that just is; no particular reason but that they recognize something familiar in each other. (I love how Woodson has the boy describe how he feels like the girl is wrapped inside him, inside his eyes and chest, it sounds better in the book than here, believe me)And the parents of the two never deal with the race issue because they don't know until the very end of the book. But the portrayal of how the two love eachother as individuals while feeling confused about how they can do so while having complicated feelings for an entire race is so very poignant and true.And much like I feel sometimes, thinking about my own husband. How is it possible for us to only love and be familiar with and treat as human in their own right one at a time from any group of people? Why, if I'm married to a Japanese man, does that make me not racist or guilty of stereotyping any subsequent Japanese men I meet?And Woodson doesn't pull punches. The boy, does have some difficult realizations about how people treat him when he's with the girl, and realizes as well that when they're together and she stops noticing race as an issue, it isn't the same thing at all as when he stops noticing race as an issue. (She tells him that she feels 'no color' when they're together, but he realizes that he always feels 'black' and then realizes she doesn't quite understand her own whiteness)And Woodson addressed layers of issue related to the race issue. She has a rift develop between the girl and the girl's gay sister when the sister finds out the boy she's dating is black. And in the phone conversation they have, Woodson brings up issues of how minorities can fall into the trap of propagating the mainstream prejudice eventhough they "understand" what prejudice is when directed towards themselves.But most of all, the writing is lovely. And accessible. And compelling.Definitely recommended for anyone who might have an interest in how race issues in relationships might be addressed by a non-white writer.

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