October 23, 2011

ARC REVIEW: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Title: If I Tell
Auhor(s): Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Format: PDF
Pages: 258 (256 on GR)
Source: NetGalley
Buy: Amazon || The Book Depository || McNally Robinson


Summary from GR:
Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight 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?

My Review:

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler is a story of stereotypes, of discrimination and stigma, of a secret and a lapse in judgement. It is a novel about Jasmine (Jaz) Evans, a “mistake” – a half-white, half-black mutt. She has a young mother, a father who does not want her, and she lives in a town so small and so ignorant that fitting in has not come easy. She sees herself as the stain her classmates have so eloquently told her she was. Yet, she sticks it out. She survives the taunts, the silent treatments, and life seems to be going okay with her mom’s new boyfriend.

However, what happens when she sees her may-soon-to-be stepdad, Simon, locking lips with her best friend? Where does the trust go? How can she forgive them? Better question, is she capable of forgiving them?

If I Tell is a frustrating story to say the least. The characters, the plot, the setting is all so believable that it becomes irksome. There’s something about If I Tell that makes me like it though. That makes me somewhat feel for the characters. I don’t know what word to use to describe this feeling of teetering between liking it and not. I do like it, I really do, but it leaves me feeling a little…meh (cue meh hand gesture).

Well, I guess we could start off with the thing(s) I really liked. Jackson. I LOVE HIM. I emphasize the word love. He is now one of my fictional crushes. In my head, he is my definition of hot. HOT. All capitals. He does not sparkle (as far as I can tell), he is not moody and troubled (currently), but he is indeed a bad-boy type. Jackson is the bad boy most girls want – he’s got a past, he’s a little a-hole-y, but he’s also soft and squishy inside. He’s got this charm, and laid-back feel to him that I really love. He’s also incredibly forgiving and open-minded. I was mirroring Jaz’s reactions to him every time he popped up in the novel. I literally grinned like an idiot whenever he was mentioned. Like Jaz said, he’s beautiful inside, where it counts.

Another thing I liked was how realistically the story was portrayed. The characters are authentic and heartfelt, and so that means they are also extremely frustrating. Jaz irritated me to no end. When her close friend Ashley (whom I love and need to find a twin of in real life) told her to snap out of it, I practically screamed out “YES! YOU TELL HER!” This does not mean I dislike Jaz, though. It only means she irritated me with her selfishness. However, I also like how she develops near the end – the small step she takes to growing up.

As for the writing, it’s alright. I felt like there were many mistakes, but I could ignore them. I think I have the eARC so it makes sense. Another thing I don’t like though, was how sometimes the book didn’t hold my attention like I wanted it to. I was pulled in at some parts, and then let go off at others. This is pretty much the reason why this novel took me so long to read.

Another thing I particularly disliked was the ending. I am not a fan of how my copy ended because It seemed so cut off and unfinished. It gave me a bland, and hardly memorable impression. Everything before the ending was great, the resolution. It was going somewhere, but then it just ended abruptly. Maybe it was the words chosen, but I felt so unsatisfied with the ending. I think that’s what gave me the “meh” feeling…the ending. But I guess, like any other book, If I Tell has its highs and lows. I may dislike certain descriptions/situations, but I enjoyed the easy flow of the dialogue. However much I may or may not like something about this novel, I’m glad it was a story that was put to paper. It just shows that there are still people who feel the effects of discrimination and stigma. I liked that this story was more than about that though, that it had a lot to do with growing up and making mistakes. I liked how it shed light on forgiveness, and the struggles that come with the journey through it.

Janet Gurtler is no doubt a talented author. Although I may not have loved this novel, I am still interested in reading other books by her. I can’t really say if this is a light and fluffy read or not because the topics dealt with are far from light. At the same time, the way the story is executed is not heavy enough to weigh down the average reader. I guess I would recommend this to anyone who likes a dose of reality in their diet, something a little angst-y but also incredibly cute.

Anyway, thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the eBook!


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