Thursday, November 24, 2011

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Title: If I Tell
Author: Janet Gurtler
Published: October 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

My Rating: 4.5 stars
Tags: YA | Romance | Realistic | Girls
Includes: Sexuality, Brief Profanity, Drinking

First Lines: 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.

Jasmine, or "Jaz" for short, grew up living with her grandmother, since her own mother didn't want to take care of her. Jaz's white mother became pregnant as a teen after sleeping with a black guy. The result? A bi-racial child that can't seem to fit in in a black and white town. Jaz's biological father, the Sperminator, fled as soon as he heard he was going to be a dad, and Jaz's messed up mother couldn't handle the burden of a baby. Which led to why Jaz grew up with her grandmother and grandfather. Now, at age seventeen, Jaz is trying to accept her race and figure out where she belongs. Life is finally starting to feel okay until it happens: Jaz witnesses her mother's boyfriend making out with her best friend at a party. Faced with a choice, Jaz must decide whether to tell her mom what she saw or keep it a secret from her.

From page 25
I imagined myself standing up and pointing an accusing finger at Simon. Not cool at all, you two-timing freak. How far did you go after I saw you making out with Lacey? Did you get her pregnant too? I pictured Grandma smashing her good china on Simon's head. I swallowed the permanent wedge in my throat and added an image of my mom collapsing on the floor in a ladylike faint to my fantasy.

Right away, I didn't like Jaz. And even as the chapters progressed, she irritated me more and more. I almost stopped reading the book because her selfishness just made me mad, but I decided to stick through it because I was dying to know how the story would end. I made the right choice and I'm so glad I kept reading. Jaz was, like I said, selfish. She only thought of herself, was extremely stubborn, and seemed to love to find ways to argue with people. It ticked me off how she would repeatedly complain about not having any friends, when really it was her problem that was so. She didn't trust people or let them in, always distancing herself from people. Most of the big problems in this book were the result of Jaz's fault, and I kept wanting to scream at her, "You are your own problem, and your own solution, too!" Now you may be wondering, if you hated Jaz so much, why give this book 4 and a half stars?!

Lately, some of the realistic YA books I've read have been kind of a let down. But this one was different. It was one of those novels that while reading it, it doesn't seem that great. But as soon as I finished reading the last page, I just sat there and thought, "Wow, that was an awesome story." Sure, it had its moments where it dragged, and the main character wasn't my favorite cup of tea, but the actual story and writing itself were fantastic. I adored the romance in this book - it felt so real and flowed nicely. Jackson, Jaz's love interest, was a phenomenal fictional guy that I absolutely loved reading about. He was secretive, charming, cute, and funny. How he fell for Jaz and her serious personality, I'll have no idea, but I'm glad he did. By the end of the novel, my emotions were all over the place and that's when the book becomes so real and personal. The author really impressed me with how smoothly she could transition into different emotions - one minute I'd find myself smiling from one of Jackson's corny jokes, and the next I'd be on the verge of tears. The book dealt with some heavy issues, but ended beautifully. I'm so glad I gave this author a second chance (I wasn't a big fan of her first novel) because this was realistic fiction at its finest.

Cover Thoughts: It's sweet; I like the colors, and the fact that the cover model's face is not showing. (I like to imagine what the character looks like, not make them fit the face of the girl on the cover.)

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