I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fun debut of spy school series is OK for tweens.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 66 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

May encourage more reading: This book is the first in a series that includes Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy and Only the Good Spy Young. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some discussion ideas.

Positive Messages

Cammie learns to be her own true self. She has a great group of friends who are always there to support her.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cammie and her friends are smart, strong girls who really look after one another (although these friends do help Cammie sneak out of her school to meet up with her new boyfriend). 

Violence

There's kicking as well as two simulation kidnappings, and Cammie is led to believe her friends have been tortured. Also, Cammie's father was a spy who was killed out in the field.

Sex

Hand holding is as heavy as it gets (though Cammie does dream of a "very sexy kiss.")

Language

Some words like "sexy" and "hot," including references to an attractive teacher.

Consumerism

A few references to stuff like Bose headphones or Nikes, but not much.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there isn't too much controversial material here. There's kicking as well as two simulation kidnappings, and Cammie is led to believe her friends have been tortured.  Also, Cammie's father was a spy who was killed out in the field. Really, this book has a great message: Cammie is a strong, smart girl who learns to be her own true self. She has a great group of friends who are always there to support her (although these friends do help Cammie sneak out of school to meet up with her new boyfriend). 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous March 12, 2015
If Hogwarts were a school for young spies instead of magic, it might look a lot like the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. Fronting as a boarding s... Continue reading
Parent of a 2 and 3-year-old Written byreadresponsibly June 4, 2010

Queen of wholesome teen fiction

Ally Carter is the queen of teen fiction. Her books are clean enough for your 12 year-old, and very fun to read. She writes them almost like a movie, and you ca... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byrp123 May 25, 2019

Great book!

I do understand that it is clean for a YA book, but I feel that there are some parts that you may not be too willing to expose to yor 12 yr old. ( sneaking out... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old March 30, 2018

An okay book, but plot is too slow

I quit in the middle of this book because of a)an obnoxious character (and really, the entire cast just isn’t that great) and b)a slow moving plot. When I start... Continue reading

What's the story?

Cammie, a student at a secret school for girl spies, has an unusual talent: No one ever notices her. But then nice, normal Josh singles her out when she's on her first covert mission. Cammie decides to keep her spy story a secret and pretend that she's just a normal teen ("All these years I'd thought being a spy was challenging," she muses. "Turns out, being a girl is the tricky part."). But Cammie's actdoesn't mean that she and her plucky friends can't use their spy training to get to know everything they can about Josh, from reading his email to going through his garbage.

Is it any good?

Readers will have fun learning all about the Gallagher Academy. Cammie can speak 14 languages, and the final for one of her classes involves a dangerous mission that leaves her kidnapped and blindfolded. Plus, her school is full of secret passages and cool classes like Covert Operations. Underneath this fun premise, Cammie struggles with a pretty sweet and straightforward teen problem (i.e. she has to learn that being herself is the best way to win Josh over) -- and she's got a great group of supportive friends who are there for her, from sorting through Josh's garbage to rescuing her from a kidnapping. Readers may find that some of the characters aren't fully developed, but they'll find out more about them in the sequels to this fun book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about series books. Will you read more of the books in the Gallagher Girl series? What's fun about a series, and why do you think they are so popular with teens? What other books would you like to see turned into a series? 

  • This book has been optioned by Walt Disney Pictures. Do you think it would make a good movie? Who would you cast in the role as Cammie? Do you like it when books you've read become movies? Are the movies ever as good as the books?

  • The girls in Cammie's friend group are pretty archetypical: There's gutsy Bex, bad girl Macey, and intellectual Liz... Can you think of other books or movies that have these same types? What do you think of reducing characters down to one characteristic? Is it realistic? Does it happen to female characters more than male characters?

Book details

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