Title: I'm Not Her
Author: Janet Gurtler
Published: May 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
My Rating: 3 stars
Tags: YA | Realistic | Cancer
Includes: Sexuality, Death
First Lines: No matter how much I don't want to care, it's not easy being stranded all alone in the middle of a crowded room, like the ugliest dog at the animal shelter. Kristina shoved me into her shiny red Toyota like she's my fairy godmother, insisting I do the party "for my own good."
Tess is artsy and smart, while her older sister Kristina is the athletic and beautiful one. Tess is a freshman nobody, and Kristina is the exact opposite - being an overly popular senior. But all of this changes once Kristina discovers that she has cancer in her knee and may never be able to play volleyball again. Kristina immediately withdraws into herself at the horrible news, refusing to see any of her friends from school. Which leaves Tess to deal with all of the many, many eager and curious peers at her school who are concerned for Kristina. As Tess begins to almost fill Kristina's role, and befriends many of the seniors, her home life begins to fall apart. She's forced to struggle between an absent father, a sick sister, and a crazed mother.
If you're looking for a sweet, happy novel then this is the wrong choice for you. I knew from the summary and just the mention of the word "cancer", that this would probably be a sad book. What surprised me is just how much the sadness overtook the happiness...because there was none. Every time that I thought maybe something positive would happen, an even worse event in the story would take place. It came down to the point where there was simply no hope left, and I just wanted the book to end already. At least on a happy note, (which it did not). Another thing, and this may just be a personal opinion, but it was hard for me to relate to Kristina, and sometimes Tess. I understand how Kristina would be depressed about having cancer, but the negativity was just flowing out of her in every chapter. I kept waiting for the moment that she would accept her fate and make the most out of her new life, but that failed to happen. Maybe it's just because I personally am a positive person, but this was just such a negative book and I do not recommend it to people suffering from cancer themselves.
On a better note, the novel had pretty strong character development. Tess' family members each had their own personalities and stories, and I liked seeing them all weave together and watch how each person coped with Kristina's cancer. The mother fascinated me the most. At the same time though, I felt detached from Kristina and never really grew to know her, which lead to me not feeling that sorry for her. Even though this was a sad book, it wasn't emotional and it didn't spark a single tear. I did like the author's writing style and I'd like to check out more books she has written, even though this one wasn't a favorite of mine.
Cover Thoughts: It's sweet, simple, girly...I like it. It doesn't really have anything to do with the story, but I do like the photograph and the placement of the text.