IF ONLY by Becky Citra


Age Range: 12 - 16
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In 1968, 15-year-old twins Pam and Danny have difficulty coping when both blame themselves after they’re attacked on their way home from school.

Fortunately, the attacker does no serious harm to Pam, but he threatens Danny into inaction. When Danny tells what happened, their dad blames him for not helping his sister. Meanwhile, Pam stays home from school and worries about how the students at their high school will treat her when they find out about the attack; she’s sure she’s to blame, since she was wearing a miniskirt. Formerly bold Pam hides in her room and in despair, cuts off her long hair; once-quiet Danny indulges in minor vandalism. Both twins focus on what might have been if only each had done one thing differently. Citra writes in alternating chapters focusing on how the siblings try to cope emotionally with the attack and how each learns some strength from the experience. Although this easily could be a contemporary story, and the historical setting plays little part in the central drama, she sets it in 1968, lending a bit of nostalgia to the narrative, describing Martin Luther King’s assassination, hippies and pot smoking. It’s a sensitive tale, offering emotional insight into the two adolescents, their friends and family.

An engaging portrait of siblings caught in the blame game. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4598-0286-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Orca
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2013


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