If You Really Loved Me is the story of sixteen year old Destini Fletcher. Destini is struggling with being a teenager. She feels that she doesn’t have what the other girls have; the clothes, the looks, the hair, the ability to flirt and even the grades. All Destini wants is a boyfriend so she can show her peers that she is special too.
Then one day Tyrone Becker, a popular football player at Tubman High School, suddenly starts to notice Destini. At first he just talks to her, but pretty soon he asks her to be his girlfriend. Destini can’t believe it and is ecstatic! She finally has that boyfriend to make her feel special.
Problem is, that after some time Destini starts to question if what she’s always wanted is really all that good for her. Tyrone and his friends start mocking some of Destini’s less popular friends and the volunteer work she does with them. Then Tyrone begins to show his wild jealous streak whenever Destini speaks to another guy. Destini initially waves away Tyrone’s erratic behavior because she loves the idea of having a boyfriend. Quickly though, things get much, much worse and Destini has to figure out if having a boyfriend is in actuality what she needs to find happiness.
If You Really Loved Me is the fourth book in Schraff’s Urban Underground series, but the story stands on its own. Schraff, who also writes some of the titles in the Bluford High series (which my students love!), is known for catering to struggling and reluctant readers. The plot is relevant to many teens today (which is so important for reluctant readers) without being overly preachy and the writing is easy to understand. I wasn’t a huge fan of Destini as a character, as I did find myself thinking, “Really? Are you that one-sided?” But like I mentioned earlier, I do think this book will be very popular with my students if I promote it a little more.