Monday, October 3, 2011

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a one night stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

Reasons I chose the book:  
After receiving a request from the publisher and reading the summary I was definitely intrigued with the synopsis. I had missed out on Gurtler's first book I'm Not Her and was excited about reading a book by this contemporary author.

Reason I like or disliked the book: 
To be honest while I liked several aspects of the book, I had some mixed feelings too. Gurtler deals with a whole boat load of issues, all of which are important, but I found myself questioning why so many in one story. Jaz, the main character, is biracial and has dealt with so much in her seventeen years. Raised by grandparents because her mother had her when she was in high school and couldn't deal, Jaz not only has some abandonment issues, but has a difficult time dealing with her racial identity. She has suffered through years of bullying and has consequently withdrawn from making friends preferring to isolate herself and escapes through music. Even though the relationship with her grandparents was strong and nurturing, not having any black role models in her life has greatly affected Jaz's ability to deal healthily with her ethnicity. Other issues that are dealt with include teen drinking, sexual abuse drugs, and post postpartum depression, and while these issues are not the main focus they do play roles in Jaz's story.

Because Jaz's life is messy, I found myself torn between really liking her character and also not always accepting her. The one person Jaz felt closest to, her grandfather, had died leaving her alone to deal with her best friend's betrayal. The friendship and romance between Jaz and Jackson was well written, and I also really liked Ashley, a lesbian friend whose presence in the novel was sporadic, but always a welcome change from Jaz's BFF Lacey. 

Reasons for recommending the book: 
Despite some of the issues I had with the book, Gurtler's writing is engaging and If I Tell explores issues that need to be explored. It is a quick read and I found myself engaged through out. I would definitely read other books by Gurtler. 

 Source: I received a copy of If I Tell from Sourcebooks for review.
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