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Behind You Paperback – July 8, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142415545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142415542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8-10–In this poignant, stand-alone sequel to the wrenching romance, If You Come Softly (Putnam, 1998), Woodson's characters are dealing with grief and picking up the pieces of their lives after the death of 15-year-old Jeremiah (Miah) Roselind. The impact of their loss is revealed through the alternating voices of his white girlfriend, Ellie; basketball teammate, Kennedy; childhood friend, Carlton; and his separated parents. As a year passes and these characters take "a step deeper into their world.... The world they're learning to live in without you," Miah's spiritual voice searches for a final, parting moment to whisper that they are loved so that they can move on into their own futures. With tenderness and compassion, the author exposes the characters' vulnerabilities and offers the hope that they will emerge and grow from this tragic loss. Although the voices are distinct, a quiet, reflective tone pervades the story. Interestingly, each character opens up and changes in some way except Ellie's parents, who espouse liberal views but never accepted their daughter's African-American boyfriend or his friends. Readers who savor tough reality stories as much as happy endings will appreciate this thought-provoking, satisfying novel that offers hope but no easy answers.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. "Even if you turn your back on the world you left, you're still pulled toward it, you're still turning around--always--to look behind you. To make sure everyone's o.k.," says teenage Jeremiah, who first appeared in Woodson's If You Come Softly (1998). In this moving sequel, Jeremiah is dead, killed by New York City police bullets. Like the main character in Gary Soto's Afterlife (2003), Jeremiah watches over the people he has left behind--his girlfriend, Ellie; his friends; his divorced parents--as each struggles through grief and tries to "keep doing what the living do," ultimately finding new connections with one another and themselves. Softly alternates between Jeremiah and Ellie's voices. Here Woodson includes the first-person perspectives of several other characters, and with so many different voices, the narrative becomes crowded, diluting each character's story. Still, Woodson writes with impressive poetry about race, love, death, and what grief feels like--the things that "snap the heart"--and her characters' open strength and wary optimism will resonate with many teens. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson's awards include 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award -- both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. She is the author of more than 2 dozen books for children and young adults and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Behind You is a book that is depressing, yet one of the most happily written books I've ever read. The story of this marvelous book begins with a young teenage boy Jeremiah seeing his dead body from the after-life after being shot by two cops when they mistake him for a criminal. A lot of people know Jeremiah, and every one of them is affected by his death in different ways.

Now normally, I would take my time reading a book like this simply because of how depressing it becomes, but not only will you keep reading Behind You, you will read it about five times. The book has a way of sucking you into the atmospheric world that Jacqueline Woodson has created, and even when it feels like there is no reason to go on, you'll still keep reading because of the hope you have that something good will happen.

There are a few flaws like how the author takes you through the perspective of multiple characters. It's a good idea, but you never really get to know each of the characters that well. Also the book is pretty short. Besides that, this is a must have for those of us who find every day life dull. Treasure it, take care of it. It's smart, it's original, and it breaks your perspective on how life works. It, in short, is a masterpiece that makes reading worth reading. The book isn't the best thing out there, but it comes pretty close.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Jeremiah has died from a cop's mistaken bullet. Now, those he has left behind try to figure out how to go on with their lives in this very moving story by Jacqueline Woodson, author of the award-winning LOCOMOTION and HUSH. The 2002 hit by Alice Sebold, THE LOVELY BONES, concerned a young girl watching her family from the afterlife after a violent death. In a similar way BEHIND YOU takes readers into the lives of Jeremiah's mother, father, ex-girlfriend and two friends, along with Jeremiah, as he views life on Earth from the afterlife.

Jeremiah ("Miah"), an African-American prep-school star athlete, left a large hole in many lives. Ellie, his Caucasian girlfriend, finds that her pain does not lessen after months. No one else in her school understands this and tells her that she "is such a widow." Nelia, his mother, is finding it hard to get out of bed. Ellie and Miah's father start visiting her to offer and receive comfort. Kennedy is now the big athlete at the prep school and is tired of people comparing him to Miah. Carlton, a longtime neighborhood friend of Miah's, now has no one to share his secrets with and feels utterly alone.

In between glimpses of the pain-filled people on earth are wonderful scenes of Miah in the afterlife. He finds his beloved grandmother and tries to learn to let go of the connections he maintains to earth.

While sadness is prevalent in this book, hope emerges as Miah's beloved people on Earth find ways to connect to and help each other in surprising ways. Demonstrating her excellent writing skills again, Woodson evokes strong emotion with well-chosen words and characters in BEHIND YOU.

--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This amazing book was a Coretta Scott King award winner. The book was sad because the police shot a black teenager in the middle of Central Park. The main theme is death and the beautifulness of death. I would recommend this book to any one who likes books with intense sadness. It is one of the best books I have ever read. When you read it you get sucked in on the first page with, "You do not die. Your soul steps out of your body." This line confused me and put me into an "I need to read more" mood. On the last line you start to feel all wobbly and a few spaces later you start shaking up an earthquake. A tear-flavored tsunami finishes it off. Then after you have finished the book you try to forget you read it as an excuse to read it over and over and over until you die!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Behind You is a winner of the Coretta Scott King award. It is the most head craving and mind thinking book, and it contains a lot of details. Jeremiah was shot by the police, and this boy has been and will stay in his friends and relatives hearts. When you read it, it makes such an impact that if you read the last sentence you'll just fall over and whimper with joy and excitement. Jacqueline Woodson has written so many books that she is like a pouncing tiger that is that is dodging every writer's block that comes in perspective. The greatest moment for me in Behind You is when Jeremiah and Ellie were talking to each other. That was so good it felt like a pair of golden sentences just hit me in the face. So if you want to read something, I'd go for Behind You.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By chantie on October 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was absoulutely amazing to me. I read her first book, "If You Come Softly", not knowing what to expect. She was a new author to me and i was very impressed. I am fourteen years old and as like many other teenagers i don't really like to read, but i really liked these books. The author really has a way of getting you into the book. I truely didn't want to put it down.

The story she told seemed so close to her. You could tell that the topic was something that she could really relate to. I felt aas if I was Ellie. As if I was going through the unbarrable pain that she goes through losing the love of her life.
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