If You Read This

by Kereen Getten (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

From the author of the critically acclaimed novel When Life Gives You Mangos comes a captivating journey of love, loss, and letters.

When Brie was younger, her mama used to surprise her with treasure hunts around their island town. After she died three years ago, these became Brie's favorite memories.

Now, on her twelfth birthday, her mama has another surprise: a series of letters leading Brie on one last treasure hunt.

The first letter guides Brie to a special place.

The next urges her to unlock a secret.

And the last letter will change life as she knows it.

In this poignant coming-of-age story of new memories, surprises, and moments of healing, Kereen Getten beautifully captures the edge of adolescence, when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying in a way it will never be again.

★ "This delightful coming-of-age story details a transformative experience, pairing vivid characters with an evocative setting and bringing readers on an unforgettable journey. Dazzling." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7--Set in Jamaica, Getten's second novel begins when Brie wakes up on her 12th birthday, her third one since her mother died, ready for a party with all of her loved ones except for her father. Brie just wants to be a normal kid with a new phone; she also craves the attention of her father who is always working. Her big gift turns out to be a box of letters her mother wrote to her before she passed. Brie's mother had a playful spirit, and it carries over into the messages she leaves for Brie--as does her sense that Brie and her father would need a way to repair their bond. Brie and her friends take off on a quest to find the key to a door that will ultimately give her a sense of peace, physically and spiritually. Readers will enjoy all of Getten's characters, several of whom add levity to the hefty subject matter of a parent's death. The strength of the story is in the vibrant community that rises up to support Brie when she acts rashly, knowing ultimately that she is a child mourning her mother and family. Readers who enjoyed Getten's first novel, When Life Gives You Mangos and Suzanne LaFleur's Eight Keys will love this as well. VERDICT A sweet middle grade story where a father and daughter are brought together with the help of their loved ones to figure out their new normal. Recommended for young fiction collections.--Kim Gardner

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In this lively Jamaica-set adventure, Getten (When Life Gives You Mangos) sensitively depicts one family's struggles with grief and healing. Before her mother's death from cancer three years back, Brie used to celebrate every birthday with a customary breakfast--which she chose from a list of items that included plantains, ackee and saltfish, and porridge--and island-traipsing treasure hunts assembled by her mother. Her grandmother continued the breakfast tradition, and the excursions stopped, but on her 12th birthday, Brie's father gives her a box of letters written by her mother before her death. The first note urges Brie and Papa, with whom she has a strained relationship, to visit Brim's island, where Brie's maternal grandfather lived. But Brie's hopes of mending their relationship wither when Papa chooses to work instead of accompanying her. Heartbroken but determined to honor her mother, Brie continues her adventure, yet she longs for the way things were when her mother was alive. In this tightly plotted love letter to Jamaica, Getten tenderly emphasizes treasuring loved ones while they're still around and carrying memories after they're gone. Ages 8-12. Agent: Alice Sutherland-Hawes, ASH Literary. (Aug.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for If You Read This

★ This delightful coming-of-age story details a transformative experience, pairing vivid characters with an evocative setting and bringing readers on an unforgettable journey. Dazzling. —Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

Getten backgrounds her story with a joyful, authentic Caribbean setting that pulls from the beauty of the environment and the solid connections between Brie's family and her community. —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Praise for When Life Gives You Mangos

A heartfelt and accessible debut about friendship, memory, and forgiveness. —Tae Keller, author of Newbery Medal winner When You Trap a Tiger

Kereen Getten is a bright new voice. Her writing strikes the perfect balance of beauty, depth, and a touch of mango! —Clare Vanderpool, author of Newbery Medal winner Moon Over Manifest and Printz Honor book Navigating Early

A heartwarming yet suspenseful debut about the strength of family, the turmoil of friendships lost and found, and most importantly, remembering who you are. —Lynne Kelly, author of the Schneider Award winner Song for a Whale

★ Getten's handling of potentially tough topics like family, disability, and religion is spot-on, weaving important discussions into an adventurous, summery plot that just keeps going. —SLJ, starred review

★ Getten lures readers in. Readers occupy pretty much the same position as the island kids, puzzling over clues and gossip but unable to pry out the truth. —The Bulletin, starred review

"A touching novel about letting go of the past and moving on." —Kirkus Reviews

"Deft storytelling and an authentic rendering of a child's voice make this a promising debut." —The Horn Book
Kereen Getten
Kereen Getten grew up in Jamaica where she would climb fruit trees in the family garden and eat as much mango, guinep and pear as she could without being caught. She now lives in Birmingham with her family and writes stories about her childhood experiences. When Life Gives You Mangos is her debut novel. Visit her on Twitter @kereengetten or on Instagram @Kezywrites.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Delacorte Press
Publication date
August 16, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV030040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Caribbean & Latin America
Library of Congress categories
Mothers and daughters
Buried treasure
Treasure hunting

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