Janet Gurtler's books have been called "just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult" (Booklist) and "reminiscent of Judy Blume" (RT Book Reviews). In this riveting contemporary YA read, she explores the consequences of keeping the ultimate secret.
One small mistake. One giant secret.
Jazz wasn't supposed to have seen her mother's boyfriend that night. Especially not making out with one of her friends! Worse yet, she goes to tell her mom and gets the ultimate bombshell: her mom's pregnant. Now, Jazz can never reveal what she's seen. No matter what.
The only one who seems to understand her is Jackson. Rumors are swirling that he's just out of reform school. But right now-with everything going on-Jazz isn't afraid to live on the edge a little...
Praise for Janet Gurtler:
"Gutler's writing unfurls with the exquisite grace of a flower." Sarah Ockler, bestselling author of Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer
About the Author
Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and son and a puppy blessed with cuteness rather than brains. Janet does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says "eh" a lot. Visit janetgurtler.blogspot.com.
Read an Excerpt
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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
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. Harriet Klausner
Soooooo good! I read the arc in one night. Romance, drama! Love love love! Will be reading I'm Not Her next!
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!
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!!! Sophia M.
Emotional and uplifting
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.
Posted on Book Chelle.I saw If I Tell as I was browsing NetGalley. The synopsis grabbed me and I felt that the story of Jasmine would be one that I could relate to. But what I got out of the story was much more than I had ever hoped. This is not your average book about a girl who falls in love. It¿s not even about a girl who discovers she has magical powers. More than anything, this book is about truth, knowledge, and how it will set you free.If I Tell by Janet Gurtler is about Jasmine Evans, or as she prefers, Jaz. Jaz lives in a town where diversity is not greatly appreciated. She doesn¿t feel like she belongs anywhere, nurturing her behavior to be an outcast. Jaz doesn¿t have many friends; she only has two, and one of them has betrayed her. Jaz now has to keep a secret to herself. She can¿t tell anyone, especially not her estranged mother. Her world is already hanging by mere threads, and if the secret got out, even that could unravel.Everything is against Jaz, and because of that she has a lot of frustration and hatred that has built inside of her. She doesn¿t know how to properly love or trust anyone, and she doesn¿t let anyone inside. No wonder she is so full of angst. I would be too if I went through what she has been through.Her mother had Jaz at a young age, a popular blonde beauty who loved the popular football player. And even though I didn¿t want to say it, race plays a big part in this story. Jaz has a white mother and a black father. She is ostracized because of it. She does not know her father because of it. And while her mother didn¿t disown her, neither did she raise Jaz, her grandparents did.Jaz was so easy to relate to. I grew up as a minority when I was young, and while I do not experience that now as much as I did back then, it still hurts. And the pain and sorry that I felt, Gurtler captured each moment with beautiful words. Jaz is strong, but so vulnerable to everything around her. But could I blame her? Definitely not. She was alone, and the only one that she felt she could turn to, had betrayed her.I really liked this story. It was sad and emotional in all the right moments, and light and funny in others. There was a good balance of emotions felt throughout the book, so I didn¿t feel like I needed to cry it out. Well, I did cry, but all for the right reasons. The pacing of the beginning was a little slow, but it quickly picked up to this quick and comfortable pace. The lessons that are weaved in the words on the pages were strong but not overpowering.All of the supporting characters played important roles to the development of Jaz¿ character and personality. I wish I had a grandma as strong as Jaz¿. I¿m glad that Gurtler wrote her the way she did. She is the tough love that I wish a lot of protagonists have. Jaz¿ mom was someone who I didn¿t particularly love, but I¿m sure that is the role that she was supposed to play. Gurtler described her as a princess and I suppose she never grew out of the role. And then there is Jackson. Jackson isn¿t the white knight that scoops Jaz up and whisks her away. Instead, Jackson is the peek into reality that Jaz so desperately needs. He is the voice of reason trapped inside a hot, young boy.If I Tell talks about a lot of serious topics but is told in a very beautiful way. Keep an open mind when you read this book. Put yourself in Jaz¿ shoes and imagine the town and mentality of everyone. And before you start making assumptions and judging, finish the story and then gather your thoughts. It is a great read and will give young readers something to think about.
Jaz is a biracial teenage girl living in a mostly white, rather racist town. Her mother had her at 17 and gave her to her mother to raise. She doesn't have a very close relationship with her mother, so when she learns a secret that could potentially cause her stress, she keeps quiet. We follow Jaz as she struggles to make a decision on whether to tell her mother or not, or just let it go. While it wasn't what I was expecting, it was still a good read. I really didn't like Jaz at first, she came off as a little whiny and annoying. Maybe even a little stuck up. But the writing was great and after reading about Jaz's life and how living in a small, racist town where she was constantly ridiculed, I started to feel for her. I was finally able to connect with her and put myself in her place. Overall, I enjoyed the book and will definitely read more from this author. I recommend this to any teen who may be feeling confused about who they are or anyone who has dealt with bullying.
If I Tell is a contemporary young adult novel. The main character, Jaz, is dealing with being biracial and communicating with the people around her. Throughout the course of the book she learns that people and situations are not always what they appear. By the end of the story, Jaz has learned a lot about herself and is able to reconnect and begin to heal most of her relationships. The writing is well done and the characters believable. I would recommend this book and I look forward to reading others by Janet Gurtler.
If I Tellby Janet GurtlerPublished 10/1/2011SourcebooksRATING: 4 starsIf I Tell is a well-written novel that addresses tough issues of dealing with abandonment, betrayal and forgiveness.Jasmine Evans¿ mother was only seventeen when she was born, the same age Jasmine is now. Abandoned by her father, cast off to be raised by her grandparents and being someone of mixed race in a small town, hasn¿t made her life easy. Jasmine is a shy loner who finds comfort thru the music she writes and plays on her guitar.Feeling like a zebra in a field of horses, Jasmine¿s attitude about her race changes when her Mom¿s boyfriend enters her life. Simon is dark skinned like her and encourages her belief not only in herself, but also in their heritage. They develop a strong connection but all of her respect for him is shattered the night she sees Simon making out with her best friend Lacey at a party.Betrayed and angry, Jasmine sets out to tell her mother the truth; only her Mom has something to tell her first- she is pregnant with Simon¿s baby. Afraid of ruining her Mom¿s life, Jasmine feels forced to keep the dirty little secret that threatens to tear her apart.Enter Jackson. The hot, new bad boy at the school who gets a job at the coffee shop alongside Jasmine. It doesn¿t take long before they start feeling the chemistry between them. Jackson is witty and intuitive. Best of all, he doesn¿t care what color her skin is. With a friendship formed and butterflies in her stomach, will she risk it all by trusting him with her secret?I liked this book a lot. The humor between Jasmine and Jackson¿s characters was a sigh of relief from the heaviness of the rest of the topics she was dealing with. More than once, I found myself chuckling over their snappy comments. I also liked how the author portrayed the supporting characters-- all misfits in their own right; with the subtle undercurrent of things not always being what they seem. The story was fast-paced and rich with thought-provoking detail.Recommended
Janet Gurtler has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary authors. She made me ache with her debut, I'm Not Her, and yet again she made me feel deeply for her realistic characters in If I Tell. If you have not read either books by this author, I would definitely recommend that you get on that. Soon.If I Tell revolves around a secret. A secret that could change not just one life, but many. Jasmine is burdened with the dilemma of either keeping a secret she feels she should share and accepting the consequences, however misfortunate, or withholding the secret and living unsure of the people around her. While this is the instigator of the novel, this isn't the only source of Jasmine's troubles. In fact, this is just one more for the pile, starting with her being half-black and never quite belonging anywhere. What do you when you are in a situation where everything seems to be falling apart? Even if they weren't so together to begin with? If I Tell is definitely more edgy than I'm Not Her. I'm Not Her deals with cancer, a horrible part of life - a tragedy really, while If I Tell deals with the reality that many people live with daily. Race, depression, pregnancy (and teenage motherhood) are just some of the major themes/problems explored in this text. There is a lot going on, but never for a second does it seem too dramatized or fictional - it all seems real. Really real, which is what makes this story so powerful. I honestly do not have one criticism. Overall, I would definitely recommend this one; beautifully written and filled with great hope. The name Janet Gurtler has become an immense pleasure to see in my to-read pile, I cannot wait for another chance to read on of her books. If you're ever feeling sorry for yourself, pick up one of her two books. It really helps to put things into perspective.
When I figured out I got to review this book for Librarything, I got really excited because the cover is really pretty and it sounded like a great book. Once I started reading it, though, I got a story that I wasn't really expecting. Yes, Jaz was dealing with a huge secret she had to keep from her mom while dealing with her emerging feelings for Jackson, but a large amount of the book dealt with Jaz's difficulty with her race. Jaz's mom was white while her dad was black, so Jaz is biracial but she grew up surrounded by white people because her dad left before she was born (they were 17 when they had her). And when I say a large amount of the book dealt with this, I mean a LARGE amount of the book. I kind of got tired of Jaz's complaining of not being comfortable with who she was because she brought it up all the time. Then, near the end she was accusing everyone of being racist and it seemed kind of unbelievable that so many people would be bothered with biracial relationships. So that part about the book bothered me, but the rest of it was really good. Jackson is impossible not to like and I was anxious to see what would happen if, or when, Jaz told Simon or her mom about the secret she saw. In the end, some things weren't completely resolved (like the part with the mom) but everything else was addressed in the end. If I Tell was a nice quick read that was very different from the normal high school dramas. It deals with real issues, but also provides the romance that we, well at least I, love to read.
If I Tell, starts with a bang. The main character, Jasmine witnesses a situation which truly upsets her. Now, Jasmine must decide what to do with this information. Jasmine is a loner and does not feel comfortable sharing what she witnessed with just anyone. She has a rocky relationship with her Mom and was raised by her Grandparents. Her life is complicated by the fact that she is biracial, abandoned by her Father and teased during her early years in school. She does not have many close relationships. So, who can she turn to?The author includes many serious subjects in this one novel holding onto the reader's interest all the way to the end.If I Tell is a well done contemporary YA novel. It is the first novel I have read by Ms. Gurtler. I will be sure to check out more of her work.
Ever been privy to information you didn¿t want to know and you had to decide if you should be the one to tell? Jasmine our main character is put into that position on the first page when she sees her best friend and her mother¿s boyfriend kissing.Jasmine has to decide if she should tell her mother. Her and her best friend fall-out from each other as well as her mother¿s boyfriend. Jasmine turns to her only friend at school and a new guy at work/school. She¿s very slow at opening up to the both of them since she¿s always kept her thoughts and feelings inside.Jasmine is biracial and has been pretty much a loner since an incident in the fourth grade. She lives in a mostly white town where races seem to stick together. How she feels about herself made me hurt for her at times, but I¿m happy at the growth and how her feelings change from the beginning to the end.If I Tell didn¿t end on a 100% happy note. Surprisingly, I¿m alright with this. We aren¿t sure of the outlook of one particular character and I¿m okay with that. Usually I would throw my book down and scream, but I think with this particular book the wrap-up and ending work.
Jasmine is bi-racial, born to a 17 year old mother, raised by her very loving grandparents. Jasmine¿s father hasn¿t had anything to do with her, except for setting up a trust fund for her on the condition she never try to contact him¿NICE! This, she feels, sets her apart and she¿s never made friends because it was easier to hang with her Grandfather and her guitar.One night at a party, Jasmine sees something she wishes she hadn¿t and it shakes her to the core. Once she decides to tell her Mom what she saw, her mother reveals she is pregnant. Now what is Jasmine to do? I thought Janet did a fantastic job of tackling the feelings of being bi-racial in a primarily Caucasian environment. A lot of the things Janet wrote about were the same feelings many bi-racial friends have shared with me that they experienced growing up, only my friends were growing up in large urban areas with their family unit intact, unlike Jasmine.I felt tremendous sympathy for Jasmine all the way around. I loved that Jaz spent a lot of time in self-reflection and did finally find two people who were willing to climb the wall Jas had erected to separate herself from her schoolmates. I also loved the honesty with which Jackson carried himself. I appreciated that he¿d made his mistakes, done his time, and was doing everything he could to stay on the straight and narrow. I loved the potential influence he would have had on Jasmine and the growth I believe she would have experienced with him in her life.I so enjoyed this book that I finished it in one sitting. I am adding Janet Gurtler to my list of authors I want to read more from.
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.
Janet Gurtler has made my list of favorite teen contemporary writers. From the beginning, she had me immersed in the story and unable to look away because I could never find a good stopping point. I just had to find out what happened next, even when I knew something bad was going to happen and I wouldn't want to know about it.In a small town community that doesn't look kindly on Jasmine for her mixed blood, Jasmine is used to distancing herself from even the few friends that she has. The only way she knows how to cope is through her guitar--and music. Jasmine's voice is so real and strong that I could empathize with her, despite never having to deal with the conflicts that she has had: from whether or not to tell about what she saw to dealing with her biracial blood.The supporting characters themselves have problems of their own. Even Jasmine's mom's boyfriend and her "best friend" serve as more than the central conflict of the story, and Jasmine will learn more about herself and those around her as the story progresses.I was happy with the romance. I've seen too much of the hot guy that all the girls want, but Jackson is such a sweet guy. While there are dark rumors surrounding him, Jackson is also trying to make his place in the world. It also helps that he's there for Jasmine and goes out of his way for her. Just what I like to see in a guy.Gurtler isn't afraid to tackle tough issues or sensitive topics. Her debut novel I'm Not Her is about cancer. If I Tell handles racial issues, teen pregnancy, and identity issues. Added to the very real, emotional, and perfectly imperfect characters, Gurtler is definitely an author to watch out for! I'm Not Her has been on my TBR list for too long, and I plan on correcting this problem as soon as possible!
"Gurtler's writing unfurls with the exquisite grace of a flower." - Sarah Ockler, author of Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and BittersweetNormally, I don't pay all that much attention to quotes on books from other authors, let alone quote them in my review, but there's something about the perfectness - and truth - of that Sarah Ockler's from the back cover of If I Tell made me feel compelled to include it. If I Tell is Janet Gutler's second novel and is about Jaz Evans, who's felt like an outsider growing up. A biracial teen in Tadita, Washington, Jaz didn't ever feel like she fit in with the white kids or the black kids, the few that she knew. Raised by her parents after being born to a white, blonde, teenage mother and an African American, football star father - whose family wanted nothing to do with her, Jaz finally maybe liked the way things were. Until she saw her mom's boyfriend, Simon, making out with her own best friend. Now, she has a decision to make: whether or not to keep what she saw a secret.What will happen if she does . . . if she doesn't?The characters in If I Tell along with the different things they have to go through - from the everyday struggles they face to the things they've dealt with in the past - are not things everyone or even that many, at all, will have experienced. A true testament to how great Gurtler's writing is, though, is how easy it is to identify with the different characters, to like them, to sympathize with them even when you can't like them and to really connect with them. They rarely, if ever, feel like characters in a book, experiencing things far removed from something you'll ever experience in your life.There's a lot going on in this story - each character seems to have something complicated either going on in their life or as part of their back story. While it can make focusing in on certain aspects a little tricky, it also makes things feel real. Life, real life, is messy and complicated and no one is a one dimensional person just stuck in to assist another person's story along, we all have our own lives. I like that the characters in If I Tell did too.I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Janet Gurtler.
This is a young adult novel that deals with some very adult themes but Ms. Gurtler writes them in a manner appropriate to her audience. Jasmine, her heroine is a bi-racial teen living with her grandmother because her mother is well, a bit of a ditz. Her mother had her at a young age after a love affair with a football star in high school. His family does not want to admit that Jasmine exists as he has gone off and married "the right sort of woman." Jasmine's mother is currently involved with another man, younger than herself and is pregnant.Jasmine witnesses something devastating to her mother's happiness but when she finds out that her mother is pregnant she keeps the secret to herself.The book covers inter-racial relationships, child sexual abuse, postpartum depression, blossoming love and several other deep topics. While that seems like a lot - and it is - they are all woven well into the storyline without being overly preachy or too overly heavy. This is a testament to Ms. Gurtler's skill as a writer. But given those topics I personally would feel this book would be more appropriate for the older teen rather than the pre-teen. Maybe that is just this old fuddy-duddy, I don't know. I am most definitely of a different generation.I did find the story compelling and I did find it real with lessons well taught throughout. I have another of Ms. Gurtler's books to review and I am rather looking forward to it.
If I tell is about high-school age girl, ¿Jaz¿, who is biracial. Throughout the book, she has up's and down's and you are with her as she deals with these problems - almost like you look at a typical teenagers life for a 6 month period of time. That, in my opinion, was the problem with the book. Cute YA book, but not the drama that you expect when reading a book. You want something to draw you in, not just live through this period in her life. She does deal with some issues being biracial, but I felt the author only skimmed many of the issues YA who are biracial deal with.
Jasmine is a biracial teen who lives in a community that predominantly white. She faces a lot of problems from her classmates and people in the community, but she tries not to show how that truly affects her. With family troubles adding to her predicament, Jasmine wonders if she might explode from all the secrets she's keeping. This was a really great book and I enjoyed it fairly well. At times Jasmine kind of got on my nreves, but she begtan to redeem herself in my eyes. It's a really book and a quick read.
As I started this book, it gave me nothing but pure happiness. I loved reading this book and watching the characters change as they realize they mistakes that they made.What I liked most about this book, are the characters. I loved that we see a characters deal with a secret and a unforgiveness towards the person. I loved reading about the betrayal but also about the aftermath of it. Holding a secret of that multitude, seeing the stress of it made way for a perfect plot line that held me up till the wee hours of the night reading this book.The plot line of this book gave me an experience that I once dealt with myself. When holding a secret like that, I tend to throw myself in work. And get angry. I loved that the characters held her anger but also showed it. I loved how I was able to predict her actions based on her anger. I know, cause well I've been through something similar too. I enjoyed the love interest in this book cause it gave way for a chance for the Jasmine to let it go. After enduring the hurt and pain from it, she needed someone to help her. To guide to place of freedom where she can longer bare the hold of the secret. I liked how both characters were a compliment to each other, but also gave each other there space. There was no "be with each other all the time" but a help each other out when they needed it with out pushing it to far. For me, the relationship is a good touch in the book.If I Tell, is a great story of enduring a secret that can hurt others. Should you tell? And if you do, what will happen? Read this book for a more better understanding of what Jasmine goes through. It's not what you think. She will surprise you.