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Publisher's Summary

A lyrical story of star-crossed love perfect for readers of The Hate U Give, by national ambassador for children’s literature Jacqueline Woodson - now celebrating its 20th anniversary, and including a new preface by the author

Jeremiah feels good inside his own skin. That is, when he's in his own Brooklyn neighborhood. But now he's going to be attending a fancy prep school in Manhattan, and black teenage boys don't exactly fit in there. So it's a surprise when he meets Ellie the first week of school. In one frozen moment their eyes lock, and after that they know they fit together - even though she's Jewish and he's black. Their worlds are so different, but to them that's not what matters. Too bad the rest of the world has to get in their way.    

Jacqueline Woodson's work has been called “moving and resonant” (Wall Street Journal) and “gorgeous” (Vanity Fair). If You Come Softly is a powerful story of interracial love that leaves readers wondering "why" and "if only..."

©2006 Jacqueline Woodson (P)2018 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"Once again, Woodson handles delicate, even explosive subject matter with exceptional clarity, surety and depth. In this contemporary story about an interracial romance, she seems to slip effortlessly into the skins of both her main characters.... Both voices convincingly describe the couple's love-at-first-sight meeting and the gradual building of their trust. The intensity of their emotions will make hearts flutter, then ache as evidence mounts that Ellie's and Jeremiah's 'perfect' love exists in a deeply flawed society. Even as Woodson's lyrical prose draws the audience into the tenderness of young love, her perceptive comments about race and racism will strike a chord with black readers and open the eyes of white readers." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Woodson offers readers a poetically conceived novel of young love, permeated with complications of family dynamics, racism, and violence.... Woodson unerringly limns the delicate intensity and passionate innocence of first love.... The two points of view effectively communicate the loneliness of the two sensitive teenagers and their breathless delight in discovering one another. Characterization is solid and well-developed as both parents and friends focus into reality through the eyes of Miah and Ellie. Their conversations ever so gently open up issues of racism, self-awareness, and moral consciousness." (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families.... A tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson's previous books." (Kirkus Reviews

Featured Article: All the World's a Stage—The Best Shakespeare Plays in Audio


If there’s one writer whose work translates spectacularly to audio format, it’s the Bard. Hearing Shakespeare’s dialog masterfully performed by professionals with the correct emphasis and tone can make all the difference in catching every clever joke and innuendo, picking up on subtle foreshadowing, and sometimes even understanding the plot itself. Here are our choices for the best Shakespeare audiobooks to add to your library today.

What listeners say about If You Come Softly

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Beautfully Heartbreaking

This book is about love, and how sometimes it happens so quickly and so strongly you can’t image how you lived without it.

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Such a touching story

I wasn't expecting to feel the love between these two kids as fiercely as I did.

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Classic.

The writing style of Jacqueline Woodson never disappoints! Such a touching story. I first read this book when I was in middle school back in the early 2000s. Reading it again in 2020 hurts my heart how still very real this story is, but I'm glad it is a story that's being told.

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Stunning

I don’t think I have works to describe how impactful this book is. Listen to it, but be warned. It requires that you feel something and respond to those feelings.

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If you come softly.

I simply could not put this book down. This book will continue to be relevant now and in years to come. Love is love. I was moved to tears and the narrations were perfect. As I hold the physical book in my hand, I know that it will be on one of my favorites.

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Beautiful

Two teens who were trying to fight the odds of interracial dating and being ok with who they were. It was a well written story and I loved it from the beginning to the end!

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amazing

amazing, so beautifully written. It broke my heart. I am crying while finishing this amazing work of art

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Excellent

This book is excellent and important - it should be assigned reading in many middle and high school classes, and I hope that it is. It fosters understanding and compassion and is an all-around good read. I also enjoyed the performance of it, especially Guy Lockard's work.

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Rip my heart out, but make it poetic

Good golly I wasn’t expecting to be so broken hearted after finishing this book. It was written in 1999 and 20 years later it feels like it could have been written today. Excellent book. Highly recommend, but get ready for pain.

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If You Come Softly

Glad it's finally in audio form! I have always loved this book. Thank You, Jacqueline!