While reading If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, I could not help but think about the similarities between this story and the one told in Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Both stories are about two unlikely people who end up falling in love and have to face what others in society will say and think about their relationship. Furthermore, they face the struggle of seeking acceptance from one another families and the pain that comes from being so misunderstood. They are also both heart wrenching reads as their endings are devastating and sad.
Although there are commonalities between these two books, what I really enjoyed about If You Come Softly is that the book was partly about love, partly about race, and partly about these two characters and the way they relate to the world around them. The issue of race and discrimination is not the focal point in the story, but I appreciate how Woodson does not give a stereotypical portrayal of an interracial relationship. She does not make Jeremiah the spokesman for every young black man in the world and Ellie does not speak for every Jewish girl. Neither of them is a stereotype, they are just who they are. But at the same time, their race is something people are uncomfortable with. I like how the book focused more on who they were than what people thought of them because I was able to really get to know, understand, and empathize with the characters. Not only did this help me to enjoy the book more, but it allowed me to better understand their relationship and their individual situations.
My only criticism of the story is that at times the writing is a little too light. I know that Jeremiah and Ellie mention people giving them weird looks, that Ellie's sister is uncomfortable with the relationship, and that they are not easily accepted as a couple, but I never actually see much of the prejudice that they experience. I would have liked a few more tense confrontations or insensitive remarks so that I could see how Miah and Ellie would react.
Overall, however, I thought that this was an excellent read and am interested in reading more of Jacqueline Woodson's boooks.