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I Hadn't Meant to Tell...
Jacqueline Woodson
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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  924 Ratings  ·  134 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 July 1st 2006 by Turtleback Books (first published 1994)
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Dec 20, 2015 Mariah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twelve-year-old Marie is one of the popular girls in the prosperous black suburb. She is 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 about her father. Marie wants to help, but Lena don't want her to.
Marcy Morgan
Jul 02, 2011 Marcy Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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"
Aug 12, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Lena. She is chan
M.A. Nichols
Though one of the core themes in this book is abuse, the story really isn't about it. It really is more about social tension between races and economic divides. It follows these two girls from different backgrounds as they become good friends. It is an interesting take on race relations, as both girls are raised by racist fathers who teach them to hate the other.

It's a touching story and beautifully written, but I had a major issue with it. It's written in a first-person POV from Marie's perspec
Julia McCane-Knox
Feb 27, 2015 Julia McCane-Knox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trc2015
This novella is a wonderfully realistic treasure, which discusses many aspects of life in Chauncey, Ohio during the 1990s, including racial inequality, social status, loss, abuse, friendship, family, health, and happiness. These themes weave the novel's characters together, forming an unlikely friendship between two young ladies. This bond presents questions to the social norms of the area and deepens one's thoughts, such as the portion where one of the girl's states, "s'cuse me while I kiss the ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This is told from the perspective of a well-off black girl named Marie. Her mom left her and her dad years before, so Marie is just raised by her dad. One day in school, she meets white-trash Lena. At first, Marie doesn't like Lena, but eventually they become very good friends. Marie eventually finds out that Lena's dad is sexually abusing her, but Lena makes Marie swear not to tell. Marie struggles with this, but at the same time,
3 soft snickerdoodles.

Cover Love: No, but I saw there were several editions of this book and many other great covers.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
My library has a bunch of Jacqueline Woodson books and I keep meaning to read some of them. I saw mention of this one in an article so I went to my shelves right then and checked it out.

Romance?: No

My Thoughts:
You know, when I, as an adult, hear a story about a kid keeping a monumental secret I can't help but wonder "why didn't they say anything?" But I
Chris Estevez
Oct 10, 2009 Chris Estevez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathie Jackson
Woodson brings us an unconventional tale of middle schoolers experiencing racism, subtle and otherwise, in an Ohio town where the black folks are well-to-do and the whites live in the fringes on the wrong side of the tracks. It's a breezy, quick read, opening with a short history lesson helping us to see how this unusual situation came about and why in the 1990s so many blacks in town still did not trust their white neighbors and classmates. Her protagonists Lena and Marie develop a deep bond ov ...more
Well, for better or worse, Jacqueline Woodson has a signature style; minimalism. I noticed it when I read Feathers. I still remember finishing the last page and thinking my copy of the book was damaged and the last 1/3 must have fallen out. I felt that way with this book too. I enjoyed what was there, but there wasn't enough of it. It, like Feathers, just abruptly ends. It must be intentional, these shallow dive books. I'm not sure what the intention is, but it's apparently the style she's stick ...more
With all the fine reviews of this little jewel, what else is there to say but: "We're all just people here." A beautiful quote, a beautiful theme. There is some very un-beautiful material, but the characters who slog through it are worth getting to know.

Thanks for reading.
Jan 31, 2016 Rosanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short story that packs an emotional punch. The amazing Jacqueline Woodson has done it again. This story goes against the norm, is heartbreaking at times, and makes you think about the state of the world around you.

Favorite quote: "We're all just people here."
Dec 01, 2012 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
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
Sep 20, 2011 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
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
Ofa Fotu
Oct 17, 2011 Ofa Fotu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
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 liked it  ·  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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Brutsch
Oct 20, 2011 Sarah Brutsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
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
Sep 28, 2012 Alicia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult

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
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.

The novel is a quick read and the text is accessible for a wide range of reading levels. At just over one hundred pages, the text length is not intimidating for
Ryan Palmer
Jan 26, 2012 Ryan Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-420
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
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
Jan 14, 2013 Danielle rated it liked it  ·  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’
Apr 07, 2012 Jaynann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-420
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
Apr 11, 2012 LeGrand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420

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
Feb 01, 2008 Lindsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school girls
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
Feb 03, 2008 payasa213 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
In largely black Chauncey, Ohio, Marie leads a comfortable middle-class existence with her father who is a professor. The one dark spot in Marieâs life is that her mother walked out on the family when Marie was 10 and who communicates enigmatically through postcards. One day, Lena is the new girl at school. The other kids call her âœwhite trashâ but Marie finds herself drawn to Lenaâs aloof sadness. Marie is still dealing with her motherâs absence but learns that Lena is in a worse spot: Lenaâs ...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
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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (2 books)
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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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