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If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman
Contemporary fiction

If Only I Could Tell You

Early Release

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by Hannah Beckerman

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Quick take

A twisty, heart-wrenching family drama that's ultimately uplifting (we swear). Hug your siblings and parents anyway.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad



Audrey knows that life is filled with ups and downs, but she can’t help feeling like she’s been dealt more than her fair share as she’s watched her family come undone over the years. Her dream as a mother had been for her daughters, Jess and Lily, to be as close as only sisters can be. But now as adults, they no longer speak to each other, and Audrey’s two teenage granddaughters have never met. Even more upsetting is the fact that Audrey has no idea how to fix her family as she wonders if they will ever be whole again.

If only Audrey had known three decades ago that a secret could have the power to split her family in two, but ironically, also keep them linked. And when hostilities threaten to spiral out of control, a devastating choice that was made so many years ago is about to be revealed, testing once and for all Audrey and those she loves.

Is it too late for one broken family to heal and find their way back to each other?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of If Only I Could Tell You.
If Only I Could Tell You


June 23, 1988

It is a Thursday morning and Jess is walking up the stairs even though she has no need; she has already brushed her teeth and pulled her hair into some semblance of a ponytail. Her schoolbag is leaning against the umbrella stand by the front door and, in a few minutes, she and Lily will meet in the hallway and begin making their way to school.

Later—many years later—Jess will speculate that somehow she knew, somehow she sensed what was happening: an inexplicable sisterly intuition compelling her to investigate.

As she reaches the top of the stairs, Lily is coming out of the spare bedroom. Her back is turned to Jess and she closes the door quietly, reverentially almost, her hands clasped around the handle. Jess watches her take in a long, deep breath that she seems to hold in her chest for an impossible length of time before letting it out slowly, steadily.

“What are you doing?”

Lily jumps around, her face flushed, eyes darting from left to right. “Why are you creeping up on me like that?” she hisses at Jess in an angry whisper that does not sound like her usual voice.

“We’re not supposed to go in there this morning. We were told not to.”

Jess hears plaintiveness in her own voice, bordering on a whine, and she winces at the sound of it.

“Do not tell Mum I was in there. I mean it, Jess. You don’t want to be a telltale.”

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Why I love it

Warning—have tissues at hand for this beautifully heartbreaking story! If Only I Could Tell You is half mystery, half tender tale about grief and estrangement and the kind of loss that can break even the closest family apart. A must read!

Imagine keeping a secret of something you saw—a secret that will have heartbreaking effects on your entire family—only to find out that what you had seen had been misconstrued all along?

One morning in 1988, ten-year-old Jess sees her fifteen-year-old sister Lily coming out of their family’s spare bedroom, a seemingly benign act which, bewilderingly, sparks a rift between the two sisters for decades. Flash forward 30 years: Their mother, Audrey—who has never discovered the reasons behind the feud—is dying. Determined to reconcile her adult daughters, she’ll stop at nothing to uncover their long-held secrets. But will her time run out before she can?

It’s been a while since I read a book that managed to be so honest in its navigation of loss, forgiveness, grief, and unconditional love. There are so many beautifully captured and tender moments between the characters and the ways in which the family dynamics unfold. Beckerman has a gift in making each scene, no matter how difficult the issue at hand, feel so personal and genuine. Hands down one of my favorite books of the year!

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Member ratings (7,760)

  • Mandie Z.

    North Richland Hills, TX

    This was a lovely book that I just read super fast. It was sweet & it made me shed a few tears. Two sister who haven’t for a long time over something I can’t say, you must read. It is well worth it. ????

  • Kris R.

    Saint Michael, MN

    The intergenerational portrayal of how family drama (often) plays out through each characters lens, whether avoiding problems through busyness, secrecy or creating their own stories - lessons to be learned

  • Sarah B.

    Woodbridge , VA

    I kept thinking I had it figured out and I was wrong up until it was revealed at the end. I loved the different perspective, I cried and grieved with each character. Can't wait to see more from this author

  • Kyle K.

    Novi, MI

    WOW. This book throws you in all different directions trying to figure out the “big secret”. This book made me love characters, hate characters, and feel for them. Outstanding would highly recommend!!

  • Kayla H.

    Moore, OK

    Beautiful depictions of death and dying and the intricate bond between mothers and daughters and mothers and sisters. Makes me want to hug my mom and sister a little bit tighter and a little bit longer.

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