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The book

If Only CoverThirteen-year-old Corinna's world is turned upside down by the death of her mother. IF ONLY is the story of Corinna's first year struggling with her aching loss while having to navigate the more typical coming-of-age dilemmas, with all their awkward intensity. Corinna is strong but fragile, angry and sad, yet she is also full of life and attitude. She endures adults and peers who are clueless about how to deal with her loss, but she eventually finds a mix of supportive characters, including an aunt, a teacher, and the kids in the school's "death group." We learn her innermost fears and the secrets she discovers
about her family.

After retracing her mother's steps on a sometimes spiritual, sometimes hilarious trip to Japan with her father, the novel ends as Corinna begins high school with an emerging sense of hope. This heart-warming and humorous novel shines a light on the profound ways such a loss changes our lives.

Excerpt

It's fourth period, and so far, Joci hasn't been in any of my classes. My English teacher, Miss B. B. Beatty (everyone calls her Miss Boppity Bop), comes up to me as soon as I sit at a desk in the back, next to the window.

"Corinna, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom," she whispers.

I don't hear anything she says after that. I have to block my ears and brain or I might lose it right here in front of everyone. I tell myself, "I must not cry at school or I might not be able to stop. I must not cry at school." I wonder if all my teachers know, and if they do, why Miss Boppity Bop is the first to say anything to me.

The one good thing about this class so far is that Miss Boppity Bop doesn't make us stand up in front and talk about what we did over summer vacation. I've had to do that practically every year since kindergarten. What would I say? "My vacation sucked. My mom died. The end."