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Kid Konnection: If Only

July 7, 2012

Since her mother just passed away, Corinna is dreading the start of eighth grade.  Even as she’s dealing with her grief, she’ll have to deal with teacher’s expectations and the other kid’s whispering about the fact that her mom died.  How can she be expected to think about homework, soccer, and other things when all she can think about is her mother?  It seems that no one knows what to say, so they say nothing at all.

Corinna’s dad is trying really hard but he doesn’t know how to do many of the things her mother did, like shop for new clothes and cook.  Some days it seems as if the two of them can barely keep things together.  Even her dad says, “Yeah, we’re kind of going through the motions of life, doing our best.” With the help of some other people, they make it through a year, though, and eventually take a journey that helps them through their grieving process.

If Only, by Carole Geithner, is the story of young Corinna’s struggle through grief, so you know it’s not going to be a happy book, but I do think it’s an important one.  At first, I thought it would only appeal to readers who’ve lost their mothers, but, as I read it, I came to realize that it’s important for others to know how teens who’ve lost a parent feel, so they can help them.  At one point, Corinna says that people remain quiet for fear of saying the wrong thing when, in fact, she feels like it’s better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all, because “feeling alone is the worst.”  She also suggests some things to say to a grieving friend.

Corrina is a great character that readers will love and sympathize with and my heart just broke for her.  She starts to withdraw and pull away from her friends but with the help of a school counselor, a few special teachers, and some friends, she makes some progress through the grieving process and starts to enjoy some activities again.  After all, that’s what her mother would have wanted.

If Only is well written and thoughtful and I would recommend it to middle grade readers who are dealing with grief or know someone who is dealing with grief.  It would also be a great book for adults who work with grieving children.  Mother-daughter book clubs will find a lot to discuss with this book as well.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Scholastic. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
11 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    July 7, 2012 7:18 am

    This sounds like a terrific book for readers of all ages. Americans don’t talk about death much, and we can all use some guidance in how to talk to our grieving friends.

  2. July 7, 2012 7:40 am

    This sounds like a great book. The exact same thing happened to my niece, only it was her dad who died, and she was devastated. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a supportive mother. I wish I have a book like this to give there at that time. Grief is so difficult for young people to deal with, this book sounds like it could be is really helpful.

  3. July 7, 2012 8:30 am

    I’m putting this on my TBR list. It would be a great book to read with my daughter. Children grieve differently from adults. I love books that explore various social issues. Thanks for the review!

  4. Patty permalink
    July 7, 2012 9:21 am

    Books like this are always needed, special and memorable!!!

  5. Rhapsodyinbooks permalink
    July 7, 2012 9:27 am

    I agree there is a huge need for books that tell us what those who are grieving are going through, and how they might like to be treated!

  6. boardinginmyforties permalink
    July 7, 2012 1:39 pm

    Sounds like a book that will serve to help a lot of people who are going through or have gone through something similar.

  7. July 7, 2012 1:42 pm

    Yes, I think this is a very important book. Enjoyed your review.

  8. bookingmama permalink
    July 7, 2012 2:29 pm

    This one does sound perfect for mother-daughter book clubs. I bet it’s a tear-jerker though!

  9. July 7, 2012 9:16 pm

    This looks like a powerful book. I can’t wait til Gage gets old enough to start talking about books!

  10. July 8, 2012 3:23 pm

    this would have me crying faster than anything 😦

  11. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    July 12, 2012 10:23 pm

    This sounds like one I need to add to the shelves. My students have been hit hard in the past two years with parents passing away unexpectedly and having something like this would be a step in the right direction not only for them but also for their friends to help them understand what is happening.

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