“It was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to look away but couldn’t take my eyes off them.”Review:
IF ONLY… If only I hadn’t gone to that party. I never would have seen what I did. Jackson wouldn’t have driven me home. I wouldn’t have started to fall for a guy just out of reform school. I could go back to pretending everything was normal. I wouldn't be keeping a secret from my mom that could blow our family apart …
Going into If I Tell, I wasn't sure what to expect. The summary made it sound like an interesting and fresh contemporary read, but I had heard a variety of mix thoughts about it. Luckily, I ended up being pleasantly surprised, as not only Jasmine a unique and interesting main character, but her story was one that involved the tears, love, and hope as well as fear that comes with growing up and moving on!
One of the main things that I enjoyed about this one was the characters. Jasmine had a variety of characteristics that made her standout from the usual YA protagonist. One was the fact that she was biracial. To be honest, I don't come upon that much in the books I read, so I always found it to be interesting to see how Jasmine went upon dealing with that fact as well as coming to learn and love that she was that way. Another interesting part of Jasmine's character was seeing her interact with her family as well as friends. She never seemed to have the typical relationship with any of them, especially her mother. The only aspect I didn't like much about Jasmine was that she constantly seemed to put herself down and see the worst in people, but as any reader will see, overcoming these struggles were just part of the story, a big and rewarding part honestly.
The wide variety of other characters Janet Gurtler introduced also managed to provide lots of fun, even though some of them could have used a bit more development. I really enjoyed finding out more about Jackson in particular; because just like Jasmine he had more to him than you would think. In addition, I loved seeing his friendship with Jasmine bloom into something sweet, especially when it began to go past that friend stage! I also really enjoyed the additions of Jasmine's grandmother, one tough cookie to say the least, as well as Ashley and Lacey, Jasmine's two friends who were involved in her journey from start to finish!
The overall plot in this one had If I Tell moving at rapid speed- if the pace by which I flipped the pages was any indication! The plot line involving Simon, Lacey, and Jasmine's mother also managed to filled with twists and turns, which had me debating right along with Jasmine about whether or not she should tell or kept it in. However, the main focus in this book, though, was Jasmine's overall journey in filling comfortable in her own skin. From the time she was very little, she had always felt like the odd one out, not fitting in with the white kids nor the black kids, but as the book progressed she began to gather her "people" so to say and see that being white as well as black didn't define the person she was or was going to be. Instead, her actions did. It was an honest and heartwarming journey to say the least, and I felt that Janet truly got the emotions and feelings of Jasmine down pat.
Talking about Gurtler, I really enjoyed her writing in this one! This was the first book of hers I have read, but it certainly won't be the last. Due to real-to-life story lines and interesting and diverse characters, she's truly a great addition to the YA contemporary genre!
In all, if you're looking for an honest and unique look at the life of a biracial teen, or just a good story, If I Tell by Janet Gurtler is the book for you!
If I Tell (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out!
Source: Publisher via Netgalley