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Jacqueline Woodson

Middle Grade/Young Adult

book cover of If You Come Softly

If You Come Softly

If You Come Softly is about Jeremiah who is fifteen and black and Ellie who is fifteen and white. They meet at a private school and fall in love and then have to deal with how society treats them because they’re an interracial couple. It was inspired by a poem by Audre Lorde that begins:

If you come softly
as the wind within the trees
you may hear what I hear
see what sorrow sees.

Where it takes place:

In the Washington Heights section of Manhattan

Where I wrote it:

Whidbey Island which is off the coast of Seattle, Washington and in Olivebridge, NY

Why I wrote it:

german version of if you come softly

German language version of “If You Come Softly”

I wrote If You Come Softly because I wanted to write about first love—how hard it can be and how great it is. I also wanted to write about being fifteen because I remember that age very well. As I was writing it, I came across some lines from Romeo and Juliet and realized this story was a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. The enemies of Jeremiah and Ellie’s love are racism, police brutality and people’s general stupidity. I also wanted to write about Time—about how fleeting it is, how important it is to love who you want and be who you want in the moment so that you don’t look back and think “I should have…” or “I could have…”

Awards
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
State Lists
  • Maryland (winner)
  • Virginia (winner)
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • Award Nominee (all readers)
  • 2001 Detroit Public Library Author’s Day Award

updated: 6 months ago

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is an American writer of books for adults, children, and adolescents. She is best known for her National Book Award-Winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. Her picture books The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly were NY Times Bestsellers. After serving as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, she was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018–19. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2020. Later that same year, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.