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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  713 ratings  ·  102 reviews
In this Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 12 year old Marie is African American. She befriends Lena, a white girl, because both have lost their mothers. Lena has a terrifying secret, and Marie must decide if she can help Lena more by keeping her secret--or..
Published January 4th 2011 by Perfection Learning (first published 1994)
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Laura Masterson
The story follows Lena and Marie, with Marie coming from a upper-middle class, educated black family. Lena is termed white trash, and is sexually abused by her father. The two live in a very racist neighborhood but are able to form a very close friendship despite this. Lena's mother has died, and Marie's mother has left her family, so both are without a mother. Eventually Lena leaves with her little sister and Marie is just left with the memory and influence of L...more
Marcy Morgan
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
By Jacqueline Woodson
1994 Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0385320310
Genre: Realistic fiction
Level: Middle grades and high school
Awards: Coretta Scott King Honor, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Book, Booklist Editor's Choice, Horn Book Fanfare

Meet Marie, popular and well-dressed in her suburban, predominately black town of Chauncey, Ohio. Enter stage left, Lena, a girl unlike the rest at school. First of all, she is white. Second, she is poor, labeled "whitetrash"...more
This book is about the friendship struck between two motherless girls from vastly different circumstance and socio-economic backgrounds. When "whitetrash" Lena starts Marie's school, Marie expects to be able to ignore her the way she ignores all the other poor white students, but upon finding out that Lena is also a motherless girl, a bond of friendship is struck between them--and as with all friends, secrets are traded between them. Marie finds out that Lena's father...more
Overall, I liked this book. I didn't love it and I don't know that I would read it again, but I am glad that I read it. This book deals with racism, incest, and poverty from the point of view of a young wealthy black girl, Marie, who becomes friends with a poor white girl, Lena, who is sexually abused by her father. I thought it dealt with those issues well, but was definitely dismal. It's interesting to see the racism issue from both sides in this story. Marie's father objects to the friendship...more
Chris Estevez
Ofa Fotu
This book was really good. It covered themes of feeling alone (isolation - self inflicted or inflicted by others), racism, broken families, violation in relationships, child abuse (sexual), and probably heaps more that I can't name off the top of my head - it is just one of those kind of books. It is edgy in that it talks about subjects too painful to casually communicate. It is really touching. The relationship is between a girl (Marie) and her father (her mom left them) and the same girl and a...more
Nov 25, 2009 Kristen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adolescent girls
Genre/Category: Friendship/Incest/Racism

Woodson’s simple writing style and captivating characters make this novel a pleasant, but thought-provoking story about friendship and family relationships. Marie lives in Athens, Ohio and attends a school where the majority of the students, including herself, are African American. The few white students are looked down on and mostly ignored by the African American students. Marie lives alone with her father because her mother recently walked out on them....more
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Sarah Brutsch
At first I didn't know what to make of this book. It dealt with difficult themes--parents leaving, incest, death, cancer, poverty, and race relations--in a beautifully simple way. I was struck by the writing, which seemed believable for a 12-year-old narrator and it brought me back to my own middle school days. Reading about children dealing with such tough problems was a little taxing, especially because these children were sweet and innocent. I admire that Woodson didn't portray some tough-tal...more

Originally I had ranked this as 4 stars but after thinking about it for a bit, I'd prefer to give it 3. This was assigned for a masters course I am in and I was excited to see that it took place in Chauncey Ohio as I went to school at Ohio University, where Marie's father is a professor. Nicely written, I think this book comes up short in a multitude of areas, leaving the reader asking so many questions that it becomes a frustration, as opposed to a marker of a "good book."

I didn't feel partic...more

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This is a unique story. Marie, is a young black girl living in a rich all-black community because blacks must “stay together” and they are not welcomed in white communities. There are always some ‘white trash’ people, but no one like Lena. Marie’s mom walked out on her father and her to go find herself on adventures around the world. Lena’s mom died of breast cancer. They each have lost their moms and are holding onto secrets. Lena has a terrifying se...more
This is an important topic for a young adult novel. It deals with racism, reflected in the actions of both kids and adults; more importantly, one of the characters, Lena, is a victim of incest. Obviously, not a comfortable topic, but this novel could be a gateway to help students or their friends dealing with this sort of criminal abuse. It is a quick read and the text is accessible for a wide range of reading levels. At just over one hundred pages, the story length is not intimidating for lower...more
Ryan Palmer
7th grader Marie goes to Junior High in Chauncy West Virginia. The town was once a mining town, full of white citizens, but after the mining was closed, many of the residents abandoned it. Later, black families began to move in looking for a suburb that will allow for a commute to work. She is struggling because her mother has left the family, traveling to many exotic foreign places in order to find herself after inheriting a large sum of money from her parents. Her mom occasio...more
Wan Yu( Stephanie)
I agreed with XiaoWen that this book was about the 2 important issues: family relationship and friendship. These two relationships are the most important things in my life. But comparing to two girls Marie and Lena, these issues drew them crazy and almost toward the end of their friendship. They met each other and started to know each other because of their similarity in family relationship: they lost their mother. They both are from single-parent family. In our society, single-parent family are...more
Woodson's novel, though short and sweet, says enough without saying too much, almost like the title itself.

Thirteen year-old Marie has grown up pretty lucky, living as a black girl in the affluent part of her small town in Ohio with her civil rights activist father who teaches at the local university. She knows she'll grow up and go to college, she has a roof over her head and a dad that loves her. But she deals silently with the empty space her mother's departure left. Her wor...more
Jan 14, 2013 Danielle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adults
Recommended to Danielle by: College Literacy Class
Shelves: fiction
Summary I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson (2010)

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’...more
This book followed the sad story of a Jr. high aged white girl who is sexually abused by her father. She deals with it purely out of love for her sister and her desire to not be separated from her. She doesn't keep quiet though and every time she ends up telling someone her dad packs them up and moves them. Finally she ends up in Marie's school. Marie is a wealthy black girl who is dealing with an AWOL mother and a father who no longer shows her any form of phy...more

The story is told by a 12 year-old black girl named Marie. Marie ends up becoming friends with Lena Bright at school. Lena is a white girl that many in the school consider white trash. They become friends through sharing some common experiences, the chief of which is that they have both lost their mothers. As they become closer friends, Lena finally get the courage to tell Marie that Lena’s father has been molesting her. They then have to figure out how to make things...more
I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This is the story of Marie, an African American girl living with her father in southeast Ohio. Chauncey is a racially-divided town, and Marie does not have any white friends, until Lena moves to town. Marie is intrigued by her, and simultaneously disgusted by her dirty hair and old clothes. But they have something in common – Lena’s mother is dead and Marie’s left the family when she was a child. Despite the fact that Marie’s friends and father don’t approve, Lena and...more
I hadn't meant to tell you this by Jacqueline Woodson is told in 3rd person. Marie is a black girl and Lena is a white girl. Marie dresses nice and preppy because she's rich, while Lena dresses raggedy because she's poor. Nobody wouldv'e thought they would ever be friends because of their race.But Lena has a secret she has never told anyone until she tells first Marie doesn't believe her because she thinks she just said that so she could feel soory for Lena. When she finally learns...more
A new (white) girl, Lena, attends a predominantly black school and is befriended by Marie, a popular black girl who's father is a bit racist towards white people. Lena expresses a distaste for fitting in, and rebels often with things like smoking cigarettes (at the young age of 13) and Marie finds out later that Lena's father is not appropriate with her. The book itself shows a change of heart in Marie and allows the reader to look inside themselves at their own prejudice tendencies and see the...more
One thing that I really love about this book is the way that Woodson flips so many stereotypes. Lots of books have been written about disadvantaged Black kids trying to survive in an environment where White people dominate. So in this book, it's the opposite: a poor, White girl trying to survive in a town that is dominated by well-off Black families.

Another stereotype that Woodson flips is that lots of Black men abandon their families and leave single mothers to raise children. So the main fami...more
This book is a heart-wrenching read. It takes place in Chauncey, Ohio, a former white mining town turned mixed race. In this town, the roles are reversed, with many of the black families being much better off than white families, which provides an interesting power perspective. Despite that, black families are still wary of their children mixing with the white families. Marie and Lena, however, mix anyway. This book is a story of their unexpected and unlikely friendship. Lena has a secret that s...more
Back when I read Blubber for class, this was my second choice and I'm now wishing I read it instead. I'm glad I read Blubber, but I liked this book a lot better. Another not easy read, but a better read. Also, I grew up an hour or so up the highway from Chauncey and it's always interesting to read things set near you. Especially when it's an area generally ignored. The interesting thing is that a lot of the friend relationships are similar to that in Blubber. Mostly in the way the main character...more
Jarely Zarate
This book is so sad. Its a book about friendship, about what the power of friendship can do. I love Jaqueline Woodson and how she can create such wonderful books full of emotions and how she can always write books that young adults can relate to.

In this book it tells a story about a young african-American who is wealthy and popular, and an American girl who is poor and un popular. In the book lena talks to marie but marie isn't really intrested because she feels that she will loose friends if sh...more
Isabel Yarema
This book was well written and completely interesting. In most books about segregation, two people of opposite races become friends. In the book, the same thing happened. However, throughout the book, there was no obvious distinctions of how the two girls acted different. Unlike other books, this showed a relationship of two girls who seemed completely alike but were judge by friends and family. Overall, this book was very well written and was very interesting to read. The perspective through ev...more
Anna-beth Haye
This book is about two girls who live in the 90s period of Ohio, where racism is very heavy in people's mind. So when a new white girl comes to school everyone wants to treat her like she's an alien everyone besides this one black girl. The two girls grow surprisingly close angering all of their friends and most of their family. They both can relate to numerous things for example not having a mother I think that's what makes their friendship so pure and somewhat innocent. Jacqueline Woodson is o...more
The book I hadn't meant to tell this is one of the best books I have ever read. The book is about two kids in Chauncey,Ohio. One day a new girl comes in and she is white her name was Elena Cecilia Bright. Right off the back the kids started not to like her. It wasn't because they didnt like new people but it was becuase of the way she looked and her skiin color. All the other kids were black with nice clothing and pretty hair. Lena was the very opposite.But one little girl saw something in Lena...more
Jacqueline Woodson is an amazing author. She has a good was with words. Her book "I Hadn't Meant To Tell You This" is a good and inspiring book for young girls. The two main characters Marie and Lena ended up having more in common than what meets the eye and became really close friends.
This is a quiet little book, almost all atmosphere and character, just a smidgeon of plot.

Marie is black, and in Chauncey, that makes her part of the majority. Lena is new to town. She's white, she's dirty, she's poor, and for some reason, maybe the fact that neither of them has a mother, Marie is drawn to her. They become friends, good friends, best friends, even though no one and nothing makes it easy. But Lena's got a secret, one she shares easily with Marie, but that she begs Marie not to t...more
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I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories a...more
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“When I took these things from the house:
some tapes, some books, my winter clothes,
I did not know that these would become the
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