Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This” as Want to Read:
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This

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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,209 ratings  ·  180 reviews
Marie, the only black girl in the eighth grade willing to befriend her white classmate Lena, discovers that Lena's father is doing horrible things to her in private.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Speak (first published 1994)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,209 ratings  ·  180 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
Mariah Roze
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.
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Beautiful. Stunning. Heartbreaking.

Sometimes a listening ear offers more security than ignorance.

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 b
Marcy Morgan
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 i
Teneya Perkins
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
maria is the only black girl in 8th grade willing to be friends with this white girl lena. So they become really close and that's when Lena tell maria about the stuff her dad try to do in private.
Julia McCane-Knox
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Marcia Campbell
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Woodson, Jacqueline. I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This. New York: Speak, 2006

Target Audience: 15-18 year-olds

The story takes place in Chauncey Ohio, originally a coal-mining coal, inhabited primarily by poor whites. When people started getting chronically ill, and the coal diminished, the residents moved out leaving an uninhabited, abandoned neighborhood. When the government decided to sell much of the land, African Americans moved in and the place was designated an all-bla

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 parti
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
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 depar
M.A. Nichols
Dec 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: abuse, middle-grade
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 Mar
Kiri Case
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: engl-420

Marie is a twelve-year-old black girl living in Ohio with her father. Her mother leaves them both, claiming she needs a break, but never returning. Marie longs for an emotional connection with her father, who is distant ever since her mother left. Then Lena, a whitetrash, impoverished girl, moves in to the mostly-black community. At first, Marie ignores her, but as she begins to spend time with her, she realizes that Lena is smart, talented, and dealing wit
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Becky Carleton
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a beautifully written book about ugly subjects: sexual abuse, racism, classism, abandonment. Marie is a black girl from a well educated, affluent family. But that doesn't mean everything in her life is happy. Lena is a white girl from a poor family that just moved to town. The trashy side of town--literally--near the town dump. But that doesn't mean everything in Lena's life is shit. Both girls bond over their shared motherlessness, their ability to see the good in bad situations, and th ...more
Kathie Jackson
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: juv-contemporary
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
Sandy D.
This middle-grade/young teen novel is about two eighth-grade girls who become friends despite differences in race and class. The setting – a small, mostly Black town in southern Ohio – and the characterization and historical detail are amazing. And although I guessed the “terrible secret” that Lena was hiding pretty early on, the book was still so very, very good and ultimately hopeful that I recommend it without reservation, for kids (especially girls) 12 & up.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book although it was bittersweet. It is mostly a story of friendship for tweens (young adults), although it deals with some heavier issues such as racism, alcoholism and incest (dealt with delicately). Mostly it tells how important friendship is at the age of 12-14, how love is better than hate even if you pay a price for it, and the importance of family. Woodson is a wonderful writer and I hope to read more of her books soon.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Essential. Real. I found myself wishing in the beginning that the responses to hurt had been written differently, but quickly began to appreciate how real these responses are, authentic instead of idealistic. These interactions between two young women are the bare bones of every interaction in our lifetime. The circumstances and situations may change but how we are effected, how we feel, how we respond does not change so much as we grow older. I am utterly in love with Jacqueline Woodson.
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was recommended to me by a co-worker who gives great teen reader's advisory. I could not put this book down. Amazing! After reading this book I wanted to read everything written by Jacqueline Woodson.
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Another book typical of Jaqueline Woodson. Reading them all so close together they've all got similar themes of abandonment and helplessness as a child. They're wonderful reads. I highly suggest them to anyone at any stage of their life.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A powerful short read which deals with racism, the loss of a parent, sexual abuse, and judging others based on their appearance. Although it deals with sexual abuse, it does it in a way that isn't very graphic.
Rosanna (The Hopeless Romantic Bookworm)
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."
Greg Adams
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Intriguing story of an unlikely friendship. I appreciate Woodson's grasp of teen (i.e. whirlwind) emotions and her ability to make believable characters that are easy to love (even if you don't like them).
Sidney Owens
This book is for a little bit of older students but its a good read. I think its important to have books like these that speak up about abuse and what is not acceptable. I liked this story of how bravery will always turn to do the right thing, even though it may be hard sometimes.
Sam (Hissing Potatoes)
This book deals with some heavy themes and does it well from the perspective of two middle schoolers grappling with them. I just felt that there was something missing plot-wise to make it a story rather than a meandering slice-of-life (albeit a complicated one).

TW for sexual abuse.
Anais Miller
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't like the story itself and what it was about, but it was really well written. If only I would have liked the story, I would have given it five stars. There are a lot of themes, both major and minor in this story, but this story wasn't really my type.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-ya
Jacqueline Woodson is the best. And I knew this already, but was blown away again by her skill when I read this seemingly simple, subtle, complex, beautiful book. Highly recommend, if you're into reading books for young people.
Cassidy Bowen
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
While short (a novella), this book was both heartbreaking and heartwarming (is that possible?) in the best and worst ways. For anyone looking for a quick but still deep and enriching read, I recommend this book!

That was stupid lol
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Bucking the Sarge
  • Like Sisters on the Homefront
  • I Am Not Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza, #4)
  • Boy Toy
  • Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen
  • The Okay Witch
  • Ask Me How I Got Here
  • Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling
  • Heaven (Heaven, #1)
  • The Crossing
  • The First Part Last (Heaven, #2)
  • #Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster
  • Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
  • The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker
  • Shizuko's Daughter
  • Other Words for Home
  • Blue
See similar books…
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 chalk

Other books in the series

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (2 books)
  • Lena
“When I took these things from the house:
some tapes, some books, my winter clothes,
I did not know that these would become the
things I own.”
More quotes…