IF ONLY by Jennifer Gilmore
Kirkus Star

IF ONLY

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A probing look at teen pregnancy and adoption.

Acclaimed novelist Gilmore (We Were Never Here, 2016, etc.) explores the loaded subject of adoption from multiple perspectives. She fashions two first-person narratives: Bridget, a pregnant 16-year-old grappling with whether to keep her baby at the turn of the 21st century, and Ivy, a 16-year-old adoptee, who in 2017 decides the time to find her birth mother has come. Early on, Gilmore slowly reveals that Ivy is the daughter Bridget gave to lesbian couple Andrea and Joanne in 2000, exiting their lives shortly thereafter, leaving only letters for Ivy. While the intricately interwoven nonlinear narrative offers much food for thought in terms of identity formation and reflects a concerted effort to present characters from a variety of diverse backgrounds, the novel excels in diving head-on into the deep moral and existential quandaries unplanned pregnancy and adoption present. On the one hand, Bridget expresses the view that “adoption is always the story of someone breaking someone else’s heart,” just as Ivy tries to reconcile feeling fortunate—“I am the prize. I have never not felt that way”—with wondering “Why did she hand me over in the end? What did I do that was so bad?” Bridget and Ivy are white.

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. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 31st, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-06-239363-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2018




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