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If Only

Review

If Only

 “How do you make the decision that matters most?” Bridget never thought that at 16 she would be making decisions that would affect her whole future and change her everyday life. At 16 she finds herself dumped by her boyfriend for another girl --- and pregnant. As Bridget begins to envision a new life, one for her and her baby, she has to decide what to do for the best of both of them. Moving through the many paths and adoptive parents, Bridget fears that there is no right decision for them to both be happy.

About 16 years later, Ivy wants to know more. She knows that Bridget was the one to name her, and that Bridget was 16 when she gave birth to her. She knows that Bridget left her and her moms’ lives soon after choosing an open adoption. Searching to find more about her “first mom,” Ivy realizes that she will also be learning more about herself.

"The story of IF ONLY was touching in a way I’ve never read before….[Gilmore] really knows what she is doing. The book was captivating, especially for its realism and complex pull."

IF ONLY is a story about two people each making decisions that will affect each one another’s futures as well as their own individual futures. It explores each of their stories at the same time, as well as exploring the “if onlys.” In addition to showing the lives that Bridget and Ivy ended up with, the book also shows readers what Ivy’s life might have been, based on who Bridget selected for adoptive parents, along with views from Ivy’s chosen parents. It’s a story about taking chances and finding your own happy ending.

The story of IF ONLY was touching in a way I’ve never read before. One of the reasons for me feeling this way was the unique story structure. It was told from many different perspectives and in different times. At some points in the book it would be confusing for me to figure out what was happening or what characters were in that chapter, but once I could follow the pattern I found it very interesting and fun. I loved how the choices of Bridget, Ivy and Ivy’s mothers became more and more influencing as the story followed along, which me want to read it more and more! Another part of the book that touched me in a special way were the letters that Bridget would write to Ivy. They showed so much love, support and wisdom. I noticed how Jennifer Gilmore conveyed how an event like having a baby, even at 16, can give you so much insight on the world. Bridget grew so wise and experienced; I could feel her love and protection for Ivy. It really touched my heart and gave the story a personal feel.

The author of this story really knows what she is doing. The book was captivating, especially for its realism and complex pull. I felt like with every new perspective or decision Ivy made, I got to learn more about who she is and how many people she could have been. It really teaches the reader how every person can be whoever they want to be, how anything is possible if you take a chance. It was a beautiful novel, and I plan on reading it again for its charm and dynamic characters with intimate stories.

Reviewed by Lillian B., Teen Board Member on August 8, 2018

If Only
by Jennifer Gilmore