If Only (Hardcover)
HarperTeen, 9780062393630, 288pp.
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Acclaimed author Jennifer Gilmore’s intimate and achingly beautiful novel deftly explores the role that chance and choice play in shaping the lives of two teenagers who are separated by sixteen years, but whose lives are intertwined.
*Two Starred Reviews!*
"This emotional, visceral novel haunted me in the best ways. Jennifer Gilmore has written something of real depth, which will leave readers thinking for a long time about the lives that other people lead, as well as the ones they might have led. If Only is gripping and shiveringly beautiful; a true achievement.”—Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Interestings and Belzhar
BEFORE: When Bridget imagined her life at sixteen, it didn’t look like this. She didn’t think that her boyfriend would dump her for another girl. And she certainly didn’t think that she would be pregnant.
With just a few months until she gives birth, Bridget must envision an entirely new future—one for her baby. But as she sifts through the many paths and the many people who want to parent her child, she can’t help but feel that there is no right decision.
AFTER: Ivy doesn’t know much about her birth mother. She knows that she is now the same age Bridget was when she placed Ivy for adoption. She knows that Bridget was the one who named her. And she knows that fifteen years ago Bridget disappeared from Ivy’s and her adoptive moms’ lives.
Ivy wants to discover more about herself, but as she goes to find Bridget, she can’t help but feel that the risks might far outweigh the benefits of knowing where she comes from and why her birth mother chose to walk away.
“Gilmore brings special yet subtle artistry to her interwoven story, weaving motifs and even seemingly extraneous people through the different iterations to keep each version connected with the others.”—BCCB (starred review)
“Gilmore’s gritty multigenerational tale not only seeks to ask adoption’s toughest questions, but dares to offer no easy answers: Not to be missed.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“Gilmore’s writing is emotionally raw yet beautiful, touching upon some traditional Y.A. themes…with an almost mystical feel.”—New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Jennifer Gilmore is the author is the author of If Only and We Were Never Here as well as three novels for adults: The Mothers, Something Red, and Golden Country (a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award). She teaches writing and literature at Harvard University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son. Visit her at www.jennifergilmore.net.
Praise For If Only…
— Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Interestings and Belzhar
“Gilmore’s gritty multigenerational tale not only seeks to ask adoption’s toughest questions, but dares to offer no easy answers: Not to be missed.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Gilmore brings special yet subtle artistry to her interwoven story, weaving motifs and even seemingly extraneous people through the different iterations to keep each version connected with the others.”
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Distinctly poetic in quality, Gilmore’s prose and dialogue flows easily and naturally.”
“Ideas regarding the butterfly effect (“My life exists because of a swish of that butterfly’s wing,” Ivy speculates. “I could be anywhere. I could be anyone. Am I the best me possible?”) will likely inspire readers to stretch their imaginations.”
— Publishers Weekly
“An emotional, sensitively wrought novel about identity, chance and fate.”
— People Magazine
“Raw stories about adoption may be this lauded author’s specialty ... If Only is a work of heart, labored over and full of finesse. Take time to process it.”
— Christian Science Monitor
“If Only enchants through its blend of mystic grandeur, and the messy anguish and joy of human connections, those inborn and those chosen.”
— Brooklyn Rail
“The story of IF ONLY was touching in a way I’ve never read before….[Gilmore] really knows what she is doing. The book was captivating, especially for its realism and complex pull.”
— Teen Reads
“Gilmore’s writing is emotionally raw yet beautiful, touching upon some traditional Y.A. themes… with an almost mystical feel.”
— New York Times Book Review