October 12, 2011

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Release Date: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 256
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
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 Thoughts:
When I finished this novel I thought to myself “How come more people didn’t tell me how awesome Janet Gurtler’s writing is?!”. She totally has my favourite type of contemporary voice, a la Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, and Deb Caletti. And those three are some of my favourite contemp writers, so that is a massive compliment.

‘If I Tell’ originally intrigued me, but its concept didn’t necessarily appeal to me. I mean, the girl sees her Mom’s boyfriend kissing her best friend?! It sounds pretty sketchy. And, well, it is sketchy, but it’s also not exactly what it seems. I think you can view the whole book based on the “it's not all black and white” theme, one which occurs on two levels. First there’s Jasmine (Jaz) grappling with knowing people and figuring out that people aren’t always what they seem. Then secondly there are literal black and white issues, with Jaz trying to deal with her mixed race heritage in a small town where people who are black and people who are white just don’t mix.

Jaz’s identity issues made up a much larger portion of the book than I would have guessed based on the description, but I was very intrigued by the whole scenario. I went to an incredibly racially diverse high school, so it was hard for me to understand why Jaz’s classmates, and even people throughout the town, made such a huge deal out of her being half black and half white. Jaz’s journey to understanding and appreciating her heritage as well as gaining self-esteem was at times difficult to read about, but it was beautifully done.

This book just feels like a perfect example of contemporary YA because it has a little bit of everything. There’s friendship (how cool was Ashley? I loved seeing a character with my name who wasn’t a bitchy cheerleader or ditzy fashionista), romance (Jackson! seriously cute), family, identity issues, and a specific plot point (should Jaz tell?) to wrap the whole thing together. I enjoyed this book so much, and I really felt for Jaz throughout the whole novel. If you’re a fan of contemporary YA, Janet Gurtler is definitely an author to keep an eye on.

The Cover:
Pretty; I like the colouring and the circle aspect of it.


Find If I Tell by Janet Gurtler on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.


  1. She finds her mom's boyfriend kissing her best friend? That's disturbing. I'm loving more and more contemporary YA books, so I'm looking forward to reading this one, sketchiness and all:)

  2. Hey! You do share the name with Jaz's friend! Thanks for the great review. Much appreciated!!

  3. Ah...the best friend is older than Jaz and the boyfriend is younger than Jaz's mom....to take away some of the sketchiness.

  4. Haha yes, it sounds a lot worse than it actually is. The actual sketchiness comes more from the fact that the guy is obviously taken, and it just shouldn't be happening.

  5. This does sound like a deeper than your average YA -- and how nice that you found a writer that you are excited about :)

    I also went to a fairly diverse high school, and have lived in a very diverse city for many years now, so I might have a little bit fo the same trouble you did understanding the upheaval over Ashley's parentage.

  6. I'm glad you liked it so much as I got this one to read in the next couple of days!

    I have read some mixed reviews but yours just made me a little more hopeful.

  7. Interesting scenario, though I don't know if it's my cup of tea. Still, from what you said about the author's writing, if I can get behind the characters, I'm in.

  8. I totally agree about not enough people knowing Janet! She has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary writers. I LOVED both her books. Cannot wait for another.

  9. I saw this on Netgalley but I wasn't sure I would like it, so I didn't request it. Now I wish I had. I love great writing. I also love a book that deals with racial issues. Thanks for the review! I'll be reading this one, for sure.

  10. It sounds soo good! I didn't spot it on netgalley! I have to check out the page and see if it's still available.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!


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