By Carole Geithner
Scholastic Press, $16.99, 327 pages

Corinna is 13 years old and has just lost her mother to cancer. Going back to school, she wonders how she will make it through the days. School brings constant reminders of her loss – acknowledgements from teachers and counselors, other kids talking about their mothers, permission slips ‘to be signed by your mother’. Then there are the friends that don’t mention it and the ones that do. While some of the content a reader might intuit, even if they haven’t lost someone close to them, other points are new and welcome.

If Only touches on the changing family roles following a death. Who will remember to take Corinna to the dentist now? Who’s going to buy groceries? This book follows the first school year after the mother’s passing, and as it progresses, we see that life goes on and there are hopeful scenes of the loss easing. Corinna develops a crush. She makes new friends through the high school grief group. Neighbors step in. Her dad is there for her, despite his own crippling grief. There are a lot of Corinna’s internal thoughts, with a few scenes thrown in. Be prepared for a book that almost reads like a journal.

Reviewed by Lisa Ard