I Hadn’t Meant To Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson


Twelve-year-old Marie is one of the popular girls in the prosperous black suburb. She’s not looking for a friend when Lena Bright, a white girl, appears in school. But the two girls are drawn to each other. You see, both Lena and Marie have lost their mothers. On top of that, Marie soon learns that Lena has a terrifying secret. Marie wants to help, but is it better to keep Lena’s secret, or to tell it? Their friendship—and Lena’s survival— may depend on her decision.


I read this book as part of the March Social Justice Challenge.  I have heard wonderful things about Jacqueline Woodson and I was glad to have the opportunity to read one of her books.

I Hadn’t Meant To Tell You This is the story of Lena, a new white girl in a school that’s population is mostly black.  Marie, who is an upper class African-American becomes the unlikely friend to Lena, who usually looks dirty and unkempt next to the fashionable and popular Marie.

Right here – right with this friendship I was already liking the book.  With both families frowning on their daughters friendship with someone who is “another color” .  I appreciated that this book was in contrast to many others I have read, and it is Marie’s family that had the money and the nice home was the African-American family, and it is Lena’s home that is in the bad neighborhood.

This book gets deep when Lena confides in her friend Marie that her father is touching her inappropriately.   Marie, who has never been around such a think has a hard time wrapping her mind around this, even accusing Lena of  lying for attention.  This subject in the book, as well as Marie’s reaction to it, seems very well written…. I can picture it happening.

Lena makes Marie promise not to tell anyone and this is another part of the book where you watch Marie try to help without being able to.   All she can do is  look out for Lena when she can.

I don’t want to give too much away about this book, however I did find that when it ended I was left with many questions.  I didn’t feel the closure this book needed and was concerned where this left younger readers who may be searching for answers within this book.  I was pleased to go on-line and find out a sequel to the book had been written called Lena - and it continues the story from where this one left off.

This book touches on sexual abuse by a parent.  It is a quick read and the book is very clean, never explicit in details.

While the cover above is the one on the book that I read, I really prefer this cover here:

Jacqueline Woodson is the recipient of the 2006 Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens. Woodson’s sensitive and lyrical books reveal and give a voice to outsiders often invisible to mainstream America. The award was announced January 23 at the 2006 Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in San Antonio

“I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This,” and its sequel, “Lena,” (reprint available in fall 2006), both from G. P. Putnam Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, tell a story of interracial friendship with no pat solutions to the problems of race, class, abandonment and abuse, while a compassionate community offers hope and support. A young boy records his fears that his mother’s new lesbian relationship will change their family bond in “From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun,” published by The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic.

My Amazon Rating

I received my copy of this book from our local Library

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on March 16, 2010, in Book Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Great review! Thanks for taking the time to introduce us to this unique book.

  2. This sounds like a good one. Definitely a different approach to the normal social stratosphere. Good review!

  3. I have a Jacqueline Woodson book out from the library, Peace, Locomotion. I can’t wait to read it.

    Glad to see you enjoyed I hadn’t Meant to Tell You This, I’ll have to add it to my TBR :-)

  4. This sounds really good! I think I’ll see if my library carries it!

  5. That sounds like a really good book! I have to check it out!!

  6. I’ve been wanting to read Woodson for over a year now. My old library didn’t have any of her stuff, but it looks like my new one does!

  7. so glad that you finally read one by this awesome author!! I have this one on my TBR list for the future!

  8. This looks so good! I think it might be a little intense for me though :(

  9. This sounds like a book that I should read, with some interesting twists and turns.

  10. Good book. More people should read it.

  11. Nice book.

  12. :) <3 Love this book

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