Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Title: If I Tell
Author: Janet Gurtler
Pages: 256
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 1, 2011
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: I could relate to the main character Jasmine in a way. I understood why she felt like she never fit in because of her skin color and the way she looks. I know the feeling. But she pretty much annoyed me for the majority of the book. The secret she kept from her mother.... It made me wonder why she even bothered keeping it to herself, since she started taking out her frustrations on the one person she was trying to protect. Telling her mother that unlike her, she wasn't addicted to a color? And that she was a horrible mother? Whoa. Jasmine made unfair assumptions and was as judgmental as everyone else throughout the book. Even though she realizes this by the end and knows she has to change herself and become a stronger person, I can't say I ever went out of my way to root for her.

Another thing that bothered me was the fact that so many other issues were mentioned. There was the gay friend and the friend who was abused growing up and the boy who had a drug past. Every other character had a dead parent (cancer, drunk driving, etc) or a parent who wasn't in their lives. Yes, everyone has problems. But considering the book was already about prejudice and racism and forgiveness, it was too much. I guess I was suppose to feel sorry for the characters, but I honestly never felt much of anything for them. And then the dialogue from some of the characters made me cringe. Things like 'Once you go black, you never go back' and 'You know what they say about black men...' I've heard those jokes before. Who hasn't? It felt very forced. Like I was being reminded and convinced that the character was black. And I wasn't convinced. It didn't sound real or true to me. Just stereotypical things to say.

I liked that If I Tell brought up the issues of race and prejudice. However, I wasn't able to completely connect with the characters, and I think the book had a lot going on with the other issues I mentioned above. While I didn't enjoy If I Tell as much as I wanted to, I don't think it was a bad read at all. And I believe that if you're still interested in reading it you should go for it.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Thanks to LibraryThing & Sourcebooks Fire!

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