Review: Not if I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler

Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler

Not If I Can Help It
Carolyn Mackler
Scholastic Press
July 30, 2019

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About Not If I Can Help It

Willa likes certain things to be certain ways. Her socks have to be soft . . . and definitely can’t have irritating tags on the inside. She loves the crunch of popcorn and nachos . . . but is grossed out by the crunch of a baby carrot. And slimy foods? Those are the worst.

Willa can manage all these things — but there are some things she can’t deal with, like her father’s big news. He’s been keeping a big secret from her . . . that he’s been dating the mom of Willa’s best friend Ruby. Willa does NOT like the idea of them being together. And she does NOT like the idea of combining families. And she does NOT like the idea of her best friend becoming her sister overnight. Will she go along with all of these changes? NOT if she can help it!

Not If I Can Help It on Goodreads

My Review

Just when I needed a spunky heroine in my life, I found Willa in NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. She has fierce opinions and specific ideas about how she wants things to go. Some of these things are related to her Sensory Processing Disorder, like her needs for clothes to fit a certain way and feel a certain way, but others are simply her own personal preference, like where she wants to go to school next year, and who her dad happens to be dating.

After her dad and her best friend Ruby’s mom announce that they’re dating, Willa realizes she and Ruby aren’t on the same page about it. This begins a big challenge to their relationship and a challenge to Willa’s way of looking at things. She begins to learn that situations and relationships don’t a;ways look the same from other people’s points of view.

For me, that process is precisely what makes this book amazing. Willa navigates that tug-of-war between her own preferences and needs and those of the other important people in her life, mainly her dad and her best friend. She remains a fierce person, fiercely committed to her way of thinking, but also fiercely committed to the people she loves, which makes her all the more lovable and amazing.

NOT IF I CAN HELP IT makes a great read for kids navigating transitions to blended families in their own lives or helping them develop empathy and understanding for the transition in the lives of people close to them. It’s also a great pick for encouraging understanding and empathy toward children with sensory issues. I highly recommend it.

Not If I Can Help It on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 up.

Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder. Another character battles anxiety. Willa’s best friend, Ruby in Indian-American. One minor character is gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of NOT IF I CAN HELP IT in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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