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"Gurtler handles complex issues of race, identity, friendship and fidelity with laugh-out-loud humor and engaging frankness...but once you're in you won't regret it..." - RT Book Reviews
"...had me hooked from the beginning...I loved her support system. I loved all of her friends. ...more than worth the read!" - i loves to read
"Gurtler unabashedly tackles several sensitive topics without sacrificing the story line and constructs a beautiful paradox by making the burden of carrying a secret the factor that enables Jaz to face her outcast fear. This novel also addresses the pressure students feel to fit in and encourages them to stay true to themselves. Sometimes we just need to hear that it's OK to be different." - Booklist
"...addressees issues such as alcoholism, postpartum depression, racial and sexual identity with honesty and frankness (given that there was a lot of talk about making gay characters straight in YA literature, I really appreciated it), which added more depth to the novel and characters... What I loved most about this novel, beside it's emotional charge and strong morale, was the tenderness in voice and compassion Janet wraps her characters in." - Willing to See Less
"This girl has got to be one of the strongest female characters written in the past few years... IF I TELL is a sweet journey of a girl who was never really given a chance." - The Readiacs
"Janet Gurtler has a way with words that works really well in contemporary YA, and I love her style... the writing, the plot, the characters, everything about it is good." - Paperback Treasures
"I LOVE WHEN THIS HAPPENS! When I have ZERO expectations about a book and it blows me away (because If I Tell certainly did!) it makes me so happy! ...It was a surprise delight that I think everyone should pick up..." - The Book Barbies
"I love the cover of this book, but can't hold a candle to the heartwarming story inside... beautifully written and the end fits the story perfectly. This is a great read for teen girls!" -
"Gurtler's writing is beautiful, vivid in description and voice and pulling readers in early. Smoothly weaving description throughout, the settings ease in without kicking the reader out of the book. With heavy emotion and clear motivations, Gurtler's talents shine." - A Good Addiction
What's a girl to do—tell or not? High-school senior Jaz sees her mother's boyfriend, Simon, sharing a serious kiss with her own best friend, then finds out her mom is pregnant with his baby.
Besides the formidable issues that kiss creates in her relationships with her mom and Simon, Jaz has other problems. She's biracial in a town that's almost completely white, and because of a brutal bullying incident when she was a fourth grader that caused her to purposely create a distance between herself and many classmates, Jaz doesn't have much of a support group. When a handsome transfer student with a drug-dealing background insinuates himself into her life, she has to decide if he can be trusted and loved. All signs are that Jaz was reasonably well adjusted before the kiss, making her relentless animosity toward her mom and Simon—that lingers annoyingly on and on, past the birth of her little brother—disconcertingly out of character. The conflict just doesn't seem to be sufficient cause to sustain the depth of her anger through a full novel, quite possibly outlasting the sympathy of readers. This problem is only partially ameliorated by believable dialogue and attractive secondary characters.
While not completely successful, this effort may appeal to teen readers that want more than a touch of conflict stirred into a simmering romance. (Fiction. 12 & up)
My heart raced as I stumbled down the steps. I needed to make sure I wasn't having a horrible hallucination, but I really wished that someone had spiked my soda and that drugs were distorting my reality. Like I was witnessing a train wreck, I wanted to look away but couldn't take my eyes off them.
Two people in a drunken clutch, their arms and legs pressed up against the wall. Two people who had absolutely no right to be locking lips-or any other body parts, for that matter.
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. The only sound I could manage was an incoherent, panicky mumble. I turned and ran back up the stairs, pushing through a swarm of bodies until I was out of the house.
"Jaz." My mom's voice called my name and I jumped, spilling hot decaf mocha on my hand. Normally the fragrance of specialty coffees soothed me, but on this day Grinds smelled pretty much like burnt beans.
"Ouch! You okay? Sorry I startled you. It looks like you're in your own world back there."
"I'm fine." My hand stung, but I placed the coffee cup on the counter where the employees of Grinds arranged finished drinks like expensive steaming trophies. "Just working on a song in my head," I lied, shaking my scalded hand. "This decaf mocha is yours? It's not your usual caffeine fix."
"I know." She reached for the drink. "You and your song writing." She half smiled as she took a quick sip, then licked stray foam off her top lip. "We'll sit and chat before we go shopping?"
"Sure. Talk is cheap." I forced a smile of my own. I should have canceled and told her to go shopping without me. But I had to tell her what I'd seen. How could I not?
"Cheaper than this coffee anyway." She turned her head to search the café for an open table. "I'll find a seat. Grab a drink and join me when you're done, okay?"
She sashayed off without waiting for my answer, disappearing into the semi-full coffee shop. Grinds is our town's attempt to give Starbucks competition. Amber, the owner, hopes coffee will be her own personal lottery since Tadita is so close to Seattle.
I checked the clock. Five minutes until my shift ended. What I really wanted to do was bolt out the back door and jog home. That wouldn't mean breaking much of a sweat. I could crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head before Mom noticed I'd left Grinds.
Sighing, I checked for new customers. No one approached the front counter with an urgent coffee craving, so I hurried to the back sink and shoved my hand under cold water to soothe the burn from the spilled coffee.
As I ran the water, a tall guy wearing a Grinds getup strolled through the employee door, tying the strings of an apron behind his back. Longish hair as black as charcoal brushed the shoulders of his white T-shirt. Hello, hot. Jackson Morgan, the new boy at Westwind High. Supposedly he'd failed kindergarten and had just gotten out of some school for delinquent boys. For dealing drugs. But I managed to stay composed when he nodded at me.
"Hey, Jaz. How's it going?" He sounded amused, as if he'd just remembered a good joke.
"Uh. Fine." He knew my name? He was in my English class, but like everyone else, he hadn't bothered to acknowledge my existence. Until now.
"Excellent." A pause. His mouth turned up in a crooked grin, and his eyes sparkled. "I'm fine too, by the way. Thanks for asking."
So much for composed. My cheeks burned and I studied my shoes, not sure how to reply. People generally didn't talk to me much. I never had to worry about what to say back.
"I'm just kidding." His voice was soft, almost apologetic, and I glanced up, noticing how nice and straight his teeth were.
He was looking at me, his eyes narrowed like he was trying to figure something out. I blushed even more at the scrutiny. "No need to be shy. I don't bite."
I was torn between wanting him to leave me alone so I didn't have to come up with more to say and wanting him to keep talking. He'd already gone deeper than a lot of people did. Most kids at school assumed I was stuck-up. And that was almost better than shy. Shy made me feel like a failure. I took a step back and reached for my bracelet, rubbing the guitar charm Grandpa Joe had given me on my thirteenth birthday, right before he died.
"So was that your mom I saw you talking to?" Jackson glanced out at the seating area.
My gaze followed his. "Yeah. That's my mom." Bracing myself, I waited for the usual questions people asked when they saw my mom for the first time: Are you adopted? What color is your dad?
"Cool," he said. "Go ahead and do your thing. I can take care of stuff here. We can catch up later."
He made it sound like a promise. I tried to ignore the fluttering in my stomach. "You know what you're doing?"
It came out sounding like I was accusing him of some evil act. God. I was so not good at talking to boys. What I'd wanted to say was thank you for not being a jerk. Thank you for being nice. I filed the feeling. Maybe I could replicate it later in a song.
"Nope." He grinned. "But hey, I'll figure it out. Amber trained me. Monkey see, monkey do."
"Sorry," I mumbled. "I didn't mean it that way."
He twirled the hoop earring in his left ear. "I can handle it. No problem. Selling a legal drug, you know? Caffeine."
"Uh. Yeah." That seemed like a cue for me to say something about the rumors, but I was too chicken to go there.
He grinned again as if he'd read my mind. Hot. Definitely hot. I wondered if working at Grinds was part of his rehab or something.
He glanced toward my mom and I held my breath, praying he wouldn't slobber over her or say something obnoxious and ruin my impression of him.
"Your mom's pretty young," he said.
It sounded like an observation, not a crush.
"She's pretty blond too," I added.
"They say blonds have more fun," he quipped.
"She did when she was seventeen."
Mouth. Shut. Please.
He laughed, an interesting baritone sound. Almost musical. "That's how old she was when she had you?"
"Yup." I lifted my shoulder in a half-shrug.
"That's pretty young." He paused. "So? Is she cool?"
He sounded as if he cared what I thought about her and not the other way around. It surprised me. He surprised me. "She's okay." I rolled my charm in my fingers. "I don't live with her." I frowned. I hadn't planned to tell him that. I don't usually advertise my weird family situation so freely. Even though in a town the size of Tadita, everyone pretty much knew already.
I waited, but he didn't say more. It didn't matter. People talked. They always did. He'd probably heard all the stories about me. Loner. Or loser. Depending on who was doing the telling. From someone at my high school, it had to be loser. So why was he being nice to me?
"I live with my grandma too," he said. He gestured his head toward the café. "Go talk to your mom. I got it covered."
"Thanks." I pulled off my stained blue apron and tossed it into the corner laundry bin as Jackson took over my shift. He lived with his grandma? Intrigued, I stared at him while he got to work. Even a semi-awkward conversation with the school's newest bad boy beat joining my mom. Besides, who knew if the drug rumors were true. I vowed not to pay attention to gossip. He didn't appear to have labeled me based on what he'd heard.
He looked over and caught me watching, and my cheeks reheated. He grinned in a friendly way, but I quickly turned and pushed through the employee door.
I inhaled a deep breath as I made my way into the café. "Cherry, Cherry" by Neil Diamond piped in over the speakers-one of Grandpa Joe's favorite songs. At the thought of him, I forced my shoulders back.
Tell the truth, he'd have said. Always tell the truth.
Even if it meant breaking someone's world apart? The last thing in the world I wanted was intimate involvement with my mom's personal life, but I'd had a front-row seat. With binoculars.
Around the room, couples chatted at small, intimate tables. A group of girls giggled together, chairs and tables pushed up to each other. I stared at my mom as I approached her. A low-cut tank top peeked out from under her blazer. She liked to emphasize her amazing cleavage.
Another check on the long list of things I didn't inherit from her. Boobs. Nope. Blond straight hair. Nope. Coloring. Nope. I'm more a muddy mix of black and white. Mixing colors is pretty basic stuff for artists, but it's trickier with people.
"You look nice," I said as I sat. "You came straight from work?"
Her eyes widened. Oops. Normally I'd be more careful about pouring it on too thick, but she'd need it after what I had to tell her. And she did look nice.
She nodded. "Thanks." She lifted her mug and sipped her coffee. "I swear I'd almost prefer to wear a uniform like yours. So much easier."
I glanced at my smeared black pants and dingy white T-shirt, the lame Grinds uniform. "This?"
"Well. It's not expensive. And easy to coordinate. Besides you're so tall and slim, and with your coloring, you look good in anything you wear."
"My coloring makes me look cheap and easy?" I tucked my long legs under the table. Being around my glamorous and petite mom always made me feel like a clumsy giraffe.
"I said ‘not expensive and easy to coordinate.' You're listening with marshmallows in your ears. You're beautiful." She grinned. "You're not having anything to drink?"
"I'm not thirsty."
"Lacey's not working?" Mom asked.
I glanced away. "No. A new guy is." I looked behind the coffee counter at Jackson. He was making a latte for a girl. She twirled blond hair around her finger and giggled as she chatted with him. She obviously had no problems with flirting.
"That's too bad," Mom said, and I focused back on her as her forehead wrinkled. The almost four-year age difference between Lacey and me didn't bother her. I think she was just glad I'd finally found a friend.
Mom didn't understand how I could go to school with the same kids for years and not have a gaggle of girls to gossip with. She'd had oodles of friends and dated the hottest football player at my age. But look what that had gotten her.
I'd never told her the truth about what happened to me and still wasn't even sure which one of us I was protecting.
"I thought Lacey might want to shop with us," Mom said. "The sales at the mall are supposed to be amazing. And she's so good at picking out bargains."
My underarms felt sticky with sweat. I sat up straighter. "Lacey is not coming." I didn't think we'd be shopping anyhow, but I didn't say that. Not yet.
Her expression softened. "No big deal. Just you and me is good." She leaned back, studying me. "Hey, I know what looks different about you. You don't have your guitar. You know, you look almost naked without it slung over your shoulder. "
"Why would I bring it shopping?" At the same time, I wished I'd brought it so I could clutch it to my chest like a kid with a teddy bear. My guitar was my most prized possession, and holding it gave me more comfort than I'd even realized until that moment.
Mom took another sip of her decaf, frowning at me over the top of her mug. "Is everything okay? You seem kind of...off."
I shrugged and stared at her coffee cup.
"How's Grandma?" she asked.
"Grandma?" I frowned and glanced up at her. "The same. Busy."
"Busy saving the world?" She sipped her coffee again and then placed the mug on the table. "You're happy with Grandma, aren't you, Jaz?"
My stomach did a backflip.
"No. No. Don't look so worried. I'm not going to ask you to move in with me and Simon again."
My stomach did a double flip then, and I swallowed hard, trying to block out an image of Simon. When Mom and Simon first moved in together years before, Mom asked me to move in with them, but Grandma and Grandpa fought her. I'd been glad no one made me choose then. I certainly didn't want to live with Mom and Simon now.
"Grandma would have a fit if I tried to take you away from her, especially with Grandpa gone."
I slumped down in my chair, wondering how she managed to read my mind so well sometimes. And other times, not at all. I looked at her perfectly manicured fingers wrapped around her coffee cup, still tan from weekends at the beach. Even sun kissed, they were so much lighter than my own skin.
"I guess I'm just feeling kind of guilty." The corner of her lip quivered. "I was so young when I had you. The same age you are now." She glanced around the coffee shop and then back at me. "It was okay? Growing up the way you did?"
"It works for us." I lifted a shoulder, wondering why she was bringing this up now. Did she sense I was about to rip apart her world?
"I love you just as much as if I'd raised you myself," she said.
I frowned. "Probably more. Grandma says I'm a pain in the ass."
Anxiety bubbled around in my already troubled belly.
"I have to talk to you about something important," she said just as I opened my mouth to speak.
I shut my trap and rubbed my guitar charm, swallowing the growing lump of dread in my throat. Had she found out? I closed my eyes for a second, bracing myself for a tough conversation.
"I'm pregnant," she said.
I opened my eyes. "What?"
She giggled. "Pregnant."
Glass tinkled in the background. A shout of laughter erupted from the group of girls at the joined tables. I blinked, thrown completely off guard.
"What do you mean?" I wished I could be teleported to an alternate universe where none of this was happening.
"I think you know what I mean." Her smile wobbled. "You okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Pregnant? I coughed. This made things worse. Much, much worse. She frowned. Waiting for me to say something. Anything.
"No. It's...um, you don't look pregnant," I managed.
She wiggled in her chair. "Actually I do." She stood up and turned sideways, thrusting out her belly and placing her hand on it. Two older men at the table beside us studied her belly too. It did stick out. A small bulge where months before it had been perfectly flat in a bikini.
I shot death rays at the men, who quickly looked away.
She sat down. "I'm almost five months already. Look at me. I should have known, but I'm so irregular. And my sex drive is fine."
She smiled apologetically as my cheeks reddened and I glanced at the table beside us, knowing the men could hear.
"Sorry," she said. "Too much info, right?"
"Way too much." Images flashed in my head. "Simon's sex drive seems fine too," I mumbled.
"What?" Her smile vanished, and I saw how her lipstick was bleeding over her top lip. She didn't look so perfect anymore.
I thought about shoving my fist down my throat. "I'm just shocked. You know?" My attempt at a laugh rang feeble and insincere. "You're kind of old to be pregnant." It sounded mean even to my ears, but I couldn't take it back. There was so much that couldn't be taken back.
She forced a smile. "I'm not that old. And hey, you'll be a big sister. It'll be fun."
"Yeah. Fun." I choked on a bitter laugh. "At least the baby will be half black. People might believe I'm actually related to someone in the family now."
I glanced around the café, wishing someone would come and interrupt us, wishing Jackson would accidentally start a fire behind the counter, anything to get me away from this conversation with my mom. When my gaze returned to her face, I winced at the need in her eyes. As if she wanted my approval. Needed it. "When did you find out?" I asked, my voice weak and crackling as I tried to sound like I was happy for her.
"Yesterday. At my physical. When I couldn't remember when I'd had my last period, my doctor insisted on a test. Voilà! Pregnant."
"How's Simon taking it?" I asked, chewing on my lip. I already had a pretty good idea.
Mom played with her hair, a hint of a giggle back on her lips. "I think it kind of freaked him out. That's what I get for dating a younger man." She lifted her shoulder and took a quick sip of her decaf and then put the mug down.
"He went out last night with his brother. To celebrate." She made air quote marks with her fingers. "He was hung over and snoring in bed when I went to work this morning." She looked down, tracing a finger along the rim of her mug. "He hasn't gotten drunk in a long time. I guess he just needed to deal with the news."
"I guess he did." My voice cracked again at the end of the sentence.
She glanced up. "It's no big deal. He's not usually a big drinker."
Which was a good thing, apparently.
She folded a hand across her belly, oblivious to the thoughts bouncing around in my head.
"Anyhow, he'll be a great dad. I know he will. Once he's used to the idea. He likes kids. "
Yeah. I've seen that too.
She crossed her legs and leaned back, and I noticed the men watching her with matching expressions of disappointment and openly eavesdropping on our conversation now.
"I'm already past the worst part of pregnancy, and I didn't even know it. How funny is that?"
"Hilarious. Hey, I know. Maybe I'll get pregnant too. You could be a pregnant grandma. Now that would be funny."
"Jaz." She uncrossed her leg and then glared at the men, not as unaware of them as she'd pretended to be. They quickly concentrated on their coffee.
"I thought you'd be a little happier, you know? You and Simon are friends. He'll be like a stepdad now."
A wave of nausea gnawed at my stomach. "He's not my stepdad." I pushed myself away from the table. I couldn't be the one to ruin everything for her. Not now. But I also couldn't make it through another minute with her.
"Listen. I meant to tell you right away that I have an English project to finish. I forgot about it, but it's pretty important and I have to get it done this weekend. Can we go shopping another day?" I stood up.
"Really?" She blinked quickly. "I mean, sure. I was hoping you'd help me pick out some maternity clothes, but yeah, I guess we can do it another time."
"I really do have to go," I said, feeling worse.
"You sure you're okay?" she asked. "You're not upset about me and Simon?"
"I'm fine. Just, you know, swamped with work." My toe tapped up and down, wanting to run.
"You like Simon, right?" Her eyes widened. Her bottom lip quivered a tiny bit. "I thought you'd be excited about a baby."
"I'll see you soon." Instead of answering, I turned from the table and bolted.
The truth was that I had liked her boyfriend. Cougar Bait I called him as a joke because of his age. Too young to be my dad. He was one of the few black people I knew, and we'd gotten along great.
Until last night.
Because last night at Marnie O'Reilly's party, my life had suddenly morphed into a bad imitation of The Jerry Springer Show.
It was Simon. Simon with his tongue down the throat of Lacey Stevens. My mom's boyfriend with my best friend. And how could I possibly tell my mom that now?
Posted November 28, 2011
This book is full of little secrets that one girl keeps to her self. Until she meets her secret crush Jackson. With Jackson she learns to open her self to the world again. As Jazz opens her self to the world again she reveals secrets of her life to Jackson. She finds that Jackson understands her better than she thougt anyone could.
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Posted October 18, 2011
As someone who is generally wary of contemporary YA reads, simply because it's not a genre that I widely enjoy, I was incredibly intrigued by this story and began rather cautiously. What I discovered: Ms. Gurtler's writing is phenomenal. Her skill with words creates a realistic image of a teenager struggling through a crisis and pulls you along for the ride. I noted early on that this book had the "train wreck" effect--you know that something terrible is going to happen yet you can't make yourself look away. I found myself so incredibly immersed in the story that this was definitely true--I couldn't look away and I had to keep turning the pages.
Jasmine is a more complex character than I expected from the book's description and throughout the course of the story, she is dealing with a lot more than "just" seeing her mom's boyfriend kissing her best friend. She perpetually engaged in a sort-of inner battle about what it really means to be half-black, half-white in a very white school/town. This search for a self-identity really comes to a head throughout the book and is compounded by the event she witnessed because until then Simon, the boyfriend, was there for her, helping her come to terms with her identity.
One of the things that bothered me a little was the way that Jasmine treated her friends, and I'm not talking about the friend who made out with her mom's boyfriend. I'm talking about Ashley and Jackson. Ashley, IMO, is Jaz's REAL best friend. She's a tough chick and I found myself wishing that she would just up and b*tch slap Jaz for me--more than once. Jaz doesn't treat her like the awesome friend that she is, so I was definitely happy to see their friendship take more of a forefront as the story came to a close and Jaz left behind a dysfunctional friendship with Lucie. Jackson is a majorly cute love-interest with a history all his own. I was cheering for him from basically the second that I met him. He goes to such great lengths to really connect with Jaz and he's simply fabulous. Yet here again we have Jaz pushing away a good friend. She goes so far as to completley tear into him at one point and says some incredibly hurtful things. I was so hurt for Jackson.
What really shines in this story, for me, is the emotions that Ms. Gurtler drags you through. You'll experience hurt, hatred, confusion, empathy, sympathy, love--you name it and I bet this story can make you feel it. These intensely real emotions combined with the well-craft, highly engaging story will keep you turning the pages with a real sense of urgency.
8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2011
Westwind High-school senior seventeen years old Jaz believes she is a pariah because she is biracial; thus neither the black nor while students at school welcome her. However, she is also her own worst enemy with an angry temper that comes across like a terrible two tantrum. Her friend Ashley the lesbian insists her only problem is a lack of self esteem that leads to Jaz wearing a sign that says victim available for kicking down. She has other buddies like BFF Lacey who is always there for her even though she is unappreciated. Finally there is grandma who raised her.
Currently she is angry at her single mom for seeing Simon who Jaz saw kissing Lacey. Complicating matters is her mom is carrying Jaz's future half-sibling. The teen wants to tell someone, but is unsure who. At a party, Jaz and new transfer student Jackson meet. They like each other and the kiss they share is heavenly. However, Jaz trusts no one so she keeps the former juvy drug dealing Jackson at a distance. Likewise, using temper tantrums, she does the same with her BFF, Simon, mom and her new baby brother. Only those who love her refuse to back away from Jaz.
This character driven teen drama is a terrific tale due to a strong cast. Besides Jaz on her self destructive path, her support group has fully developed characters who constantly remind the hurting teenager that they are there for her as they patiently encourage her to realize that the grass is green on her side of the fence due to her caring friends and family.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 31, 2011
Posted February 1, 2013
Sometimes what we see isn't really what it seems. That premise is addressed through the eyes of a teenage girl, and the manner in which it's done is nothing short of wonderful. Be prepared to feel the angst, the heartbreak, and the indignation of a righteous teen who knows what she saw, but is reluctant use the information. Totally worth investing your time.
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Posted December 11, 2012
Wow! This one made me think. Guitar playing Jazz has some heavy stuff to deal with and she deals with it in a flawed and believable way, and really makes the reader quesiton what they would do in the same circumstances. And Jackson...SWOON! I want to meet my Jackson!
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Posted May 9, 2014
I haven't read the book yet, I always look at the customer reviews to get a feel for the book . But yet AGAIN the majority of the "reviews" actually retell the story!!! Why does BN allow that type of review? It's a TOTAL SPOILER for everyone!
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Posted March 30, 2013
Absolutely wonderful! Half black, half white Jasmine (Jaz) is pushing everyone away, ever since an accident on purpose at the swimming pool in fourth grade. But now, as a seventeen year old senior in high school, Jaz has witnessed her mother's boyfriend kissing her best friend at a party when he finds out that she was pregnant. Will she keep his secret?
Along the way, Jaz meets a new boy,Jackson. Again, she tries to push this person away, too. Especially now that she has discovered some increasing feeling for him.
Anyways, I won't say anything else.... you will just have to read it yourself. :) have fun! I loved it! Also, I recommend reading I'm Not Her (same author) even though all of Janet's books are amazing!!!
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Posted March 19, 2013
Posted July 14, 2012
I’m going to start with the cover. Going into this book, I had no idea the girl was interracial (black/white). Now I’m not saying a gal like the one on the cover couldn’t be interracial. However, the description in the book made her seem like she leaned toward the black side of the interracial spectrum. The gal on the cover looks VERY white. I have to say, I’m rather disappointed in the cover art. If I Tell had a rough start. It began with leaving the reader in the dark. I knew something big had happened, but what exactly, I couldn’t say. I’m one of those folks who believes the reader should know everything the main character knows, so right off the back I was a little apprehensive about this book. I’m happy to say, the “something big” was revealed rather quickly. My best guess is the author presented the “something big” as a mystery to draw the reader in… a hook. To be honest, if I’d read the sample in the store or online, I wouldn’t have purchased the book. I’m glad I picked it up from NetGalley, because I felt obligated to read a bit further… really give the book a try, because If I Tell was a decent read. Not fabulous, but decent, and I was lucky to receive the opportunity to read and review it. The main character had me confused at time. She created a lot of unnecessary drama for herself. She boasted about her honesty and keeping the lines of communication open with her mother. However, she kept the “something big” to herself for much of the story. If she had just spilled the beans early she could have saved everyone a lot of grief. Of course, the story would have been over since that was the main conflict. As for the plot, it was interesting enough. The MC was faced with a difficult dilemma. I truly felt for her situation. But like I said, she caused more trouble for herself than necessary. There were also quite a few slow moments in the story. The book wasn’t overly long, but it could have used a bit a trimming to really keep me engaged. What I really liked about If I Tell was Ms. Gutler’s style of writing… the way she was able to use the language in a way which flowed well and was natural sounding. Over all, If I Tell had an interesting premise. I liked the writing style. Ms. Gurtler did a great job stringing words together. I even liked the storyline. However, the book was a bit slow in the middle, and quite a few scenes seemed like the same but written in different ways. As a result, this was about a 3/5 star read for me. This work provided to me from the publisher in exchange for a review.
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Posted December 23, 2011
Going into If I Tell, I wasn't sure what to expect. The summary made it sound like an interesting and fresh contemporary read, but I had heard a variety of mix thoughts about it. Luckily, I ended up being pleasantly surprised, as not only Jasmine a unique and interesting main character, but her story was one that involved the tears, love, and hope as well as fear that comes with growing up and moving on!
One of the main things that I enjoyed about this one was the characters. Jasmine had a variety of characteristics that made her standout from the usual YA protagonist. One was the fact that she was biracial. To be honest, I don't come upon that much in the books I read, so I always found it to be interesting to see how Jasmine went upon dealing with that fact as well as coming to learn and love that she was that way. Another interesting part of Jasmine's character was seeing her interact with her family as well as friends. She never seemed to have the typical relationship with any of them, especially her mother. The only aspect I didn't like much about Jasmine was that she constantly seemed to put herself down and see the worst in people, but as any reader will see, overcoming these struggles were just part of the story, a big and rewarding part honestly.
The wide variety of other characters Janet Gurtler introduced also managed to provide lots of fun, even though some of them could have used a bit more development. I really enjoyed finding out more about Jackson in particular; because just like Jasmine he had more to him than you would think. In addition, I loved seeing his friendship with Jasmine bloom into something sweet, especially when it began to go past that friend stage! I also really enjoyed the additions of Jasmine's grandmother, one tough cookie to say the least, as well as Ashley and Lacey, Jasmine's two friends who were involved in her journey from start to finish!
The overall plot in this one had If I Tell moving at rapid speed- if the pace by which I flipped the pages was any indication! The plot line involving Simon, Lacey, and Jasmine's mother also managed to filled with twists and turns, which had me debating right along with Jasmine about whether or not she should tell or kept it in. However, the main focus in this book, though, was Jasmine's overall journey in filling comfortable in her own skin. From the time she was very little, she had always felt like the odd one out, not fitting in with the white kids nor the black kids, but as the book progressed she began to gather her "people" so to say and see that being white as well as black didn't define the person she was or was going to be. Instead, her actions did. It was an honest and heartwarming journey to say the least, and I felt that Janet truly got the emotions and feelings of Jasmine down pat.
Talking about Gurtler, I really enjoyed her writing in this one! This was the first book of hers I have read, but it certainly won't be the last. Due to real-to-life story lines and interesting and diverse characters, she's truly a great addition to the YA contemporary genre!
In all, if you're looking for an honest and unique look at the life of a biracial teen, or just a good story, If I Tell by Janet Gurtler is the book for you!
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Posted October 13, 2011
If I Tell is a beautifully written novel about the weight of ones secrets and the longing to be accepted for who we are. Raw emotion and believable characters made this book an absolute joy to read.
When Jasmine witnesses her mom's boyfriend Simon, making out with her best friend Lacey, her entire world begins to fall apart. Since she's never had a lot of friends and isn't very close with he mom, the secret starts to eat away at her fracturing the few good relationships she has.
Jasmine is a prickly character and I really don't know of another way to describe her. She's been so ostracized by her small town community that she willingly keeps people at as distant, even the few friends she has. Her one saving grace is her music which she turns to to help her deal. Even though I couldn't relate to Jasmine's biracial identity issues its not hard to care for someone who just wants to belong.
The connection between Jasmine and Jackson is instant and very sweet. Jackson is someone with his own secret who's also trying to find out where he fits in. Its always nice to read a story where the guy goes out of his way to try and make the girl feel better about herself and that's exactly the kind of guy Jackson is. It also doesn't hurt that he's snarky, mysterious and a really good listener.
The novel is filled with a slew of supporting character who are all just as deep and complicated as our main character. Simon and Lacey, in particular are much more then they seem and have much more to do then just service as the catalysts of the story. The novel's tone is really wonderful, never becoming to dramatic or fake. The ending, although not perfect, still feels just right especially for a novel that feels so real.
I would definitely recommend If I Tell to any YA contemporary fan and I look forward to reading more from Janet Gurtler.
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Posted June 22, 2014
I havent read the book yet. And to the person who put that the reviews are spoilers, why are you reading the reiews then. All these people who are puttibg reviews want to express themselfs and if youre so picky that they ruin the book then read them at all ,god. They have a free will just like you and i do so you have no right to judge them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2014
Posted April 23, 2014
I really enjoyed this young adult book. Jaz has had an unusually upbringing. I won't say it was terrible because she had grandparents who loved her and raised her. Her mother had gotten pregnant as a teenager and hadn't been able to deal with the idea of being a mother - but she is still a part of her daughter's life. Her father took off and never looked back. She is also biracial - which is a minority (nonexistant) in the town she lives in, so she has never really felt like she belonged. Because of an incident that happened in elementary school, she has closed herself off and can count the number of friends she has on one hand. They are somewhat misfits like herself, but she is happy to have them. Unfortunately when she sees one of them kissing her mom's boyfriend, well, let's just say it hurts to lose one of the few friends she has.
I liked the relationship between Jaz and Jackson that develops - how they each discover they have things in common. Things that go beyond what the eyes can see. I think that Jaz does a lot of growing in this book. She deals with some difficult truths and learns how to trust - both herself and others. This is my first Janet Gurtler book, and I would definitely recommend it - especially to my daughters.
Posted April 19, 2014
I have fallen in love with Janet Gurtler's writing. The stories that she creates are always deeply emotional and intense with beautifully created characters. They are vulnerable and imperfect and entirely recognizable as real people. I also love that the author doesn't shy away from tough subjects. She doesn't gloss over them or smooth the edges, but presents them in an authentic way.
The issues are deep in this book. Race, prejudice, loyalty, family issues... all of these things are explored throughout this book. Our MC, Jaz, is biracial and has struggled throughout her life to feel as if she fit in. She has been raised by her grandparents and what is left of her relationship with her mother is pretty unhealthy. Her mother was just 17 when Jaz was born and has been rather absent since, something that has filled Jaz with no small amount of resentment. The issues just deepen when Jaz sees her mother's boyfriend Simon at a party, kissing her best friend. That best friend, Lacey, had been one of the few people she truly trusted and now that is gone, too. But even with all of the drama, Jaz also finds a new friend in Ashley and unexpected romance with Jackson.
I love the characters in this book! Each one of them has their own story, their own issues. Regardless of their role in the story, it was difficult not to feel for them. There are moments of back story and twists and turns that add levels of depths to them all, even those in supporting roles.
There are lessons to be learned in this book. Lessons of acceptance and diversity. Lessons about judgments and stereotypes. Lessons about friendship and loyalty. Lessons about forgiveness and love, all kinds of love.
Some Quotastic Goodness
--I needed to make sure I wasn’t having a horrible hallucination, but I really wished that someone had spiked my soda and that drugs were distorting my reality. Like I was witnessing a train wreck, I wanted to look away but couldn’t take my eyes off them (Loc. 73).
--Hello, hot. Jackson Morgan, the new boy at Westwind High. Supposedly he’d failed kindergarten and had just gotten out of some school for delinquent boys. For dealing drugs. But I managed to stay composed when he nodded at me (Loc. 102).
--Another check on the long list of things I didn’t inherit from her. Boobs. Nope. Blond straight hair. Nope. Coloring. Nope. I’m more a muddy mix of black and white. Mixing colors is pretty basic stuff for artists, but it’s trickier with people (Loc. 175).
--“You think because he has a black father and a white mother, the baby is bad or evil or something (Loc. 3305)?”
My Recommendation: I absolutely love Janet Gurtler's writing. They are intense and emotional and they pull me in from the moment I start reading. They are some of the best contemporary fiction I have read. I definitely recommend this book!
Posted January 3, 2014
Not only was the book very slow, the main character was very hung up on her biracial "struggle". Throughout the entirety of the book she just complains and brings up an irrelevent problem because she's apparently the only mixed person within a 40 mile radius. She just complains and throws herself a pity party. Also, while she claims not to be judgemental, she stupidly decides to assume a kid is dealing drugs without even knowing him. The author makes it entirely too obvious that the kid isn't in the buisness anymore (which is a big "plot twist" at the end") by making the main character so stupid and narrow-minded. Awfully written and not relatable at all.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 31, 2013
Posted January 23, 2013
Posted November 16, 2012
I read the book I'm Not Her, and it is a great book i have it with me and it is awesome i like all of her books it is awesome :) love it soooooooo much
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