Parents' Guide to

If You Only Knew

By Norah Caroline Piehl, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Sensitive, frank portrayal of average 7th grader.

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Kids say (2 ):

This unusual series is built on keenly drawn episodes and character exploration. The writing doesn't pretend to be literature, and the problems it deals with are more middle-class preteen angst than anything really serious. But Rachel Vail certainly remembers middle school, when romantic feelings both exhilarate and embarrass, and when friendships are more important than life. It's the sharply observed details that make this series.

Certain scenes accurately reflect the agonies of junior high, and others illustrate the humor in pre-teen romances. Zoe's introspective reactions to these traumas are the heart of the novel. Her gradual recognition of her romantic feelings is realistic, and her devotion to CJ is complex rather than merely pathetic. The redesign of the books -- originally published in a small format perfect for tucking into backpacks and purses, but now larger and featuring cover photos of generic models -- is unfortunate.

Book Details

  • Author: Rachel Vail
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication date: January 1, 1998
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
  • Number of pages: 151
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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