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?
If I TellHot
Jaz is a biracial teen who accidently sees Simon, her mother's boyfriend, making out with Lacey, her best friend. Jaz struggles with whether she should tell her mother or not. Her feelings of betrayal and anger are very real. She's hurt by Lacey's betrayal but also Simon, who she felt a real connection to. What would you do if someone close to you, betrayed someone you loved?
One part of this story that resonated with me had to be Jaz's struggle to find out which world she belonged in. Is she black? Or is she white? Her struggle to find out exactly which of these worlds she fits best in is shown with raw honesty. I've known people that have dealt with similar issues. Gurtler shows examples of the small town's racism which at times is subtle and other times painful like the scene where Jaz's fourth grade classmates ridicule her for 'dirtying' the pool with her skin. The beauty of this story is Gurtler doesn't dwell on just on the negative but shows others who try to reach out and accept Jaz, even when she pushes them away.
Told with raw honesty and hope, this really is more a coming of age story where Jaz goes on the path to discovering and accepting who she is.
Gurtler is fast becoming one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. Her writing will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult. A total must read for fans of contemporary YA.
Realistic portrayal of a biracial teen who doesn't know where she exactly fits
Current issues such as racism and depression handled in believable way
Jasmine is very easy to like, probably because she's like some teens who keep appearances outside but their insides tell a different story. She's never felt worthy of her life. Her birth put a damper on her mother's life, so she was raised by her grandparents. She and her mom have a good relationship, though, which was an interesting sway from what I expected.
Compounding matters, Jasmine's mother and grandparents are Caucasian, where her birth father was black. She ends up with dark skin and lives in an area that doesn't let her forget it. EVERYONE seems to know that she's a mixture of black and white, which bothers her. She doesn't feel black or white or that she belongs with either.Being a product of inter-racial parents as well as an absent parent (her birth father) is at the heart of so many emotions for this girl, and I'm sure many teens will relate to it.
The inner conflicts of this character from her racial attitude to her fear of water and not being accepted are deep and well distributed throughout the story. The reader discovers more about Jasmine just as Jasmine discovers more about herself. The writing is fluent, stringing one scene to the next.
The slow unfolding of a hidden lie moves the story along and intertwines other characters and emotions. Using a boy with a shady past added conflict for Jasmine and tension, even a bit of mystery to the story.
In the end, the story and characters grow and the reader is satisfied. I would recommend this book to any teen or contemporary reader.
One of the reasons I've fallen in love with contemporary fiction is how amazing and real the characters can be. In If I Tell, Janet Gurtler shows this beautifully with each character that she builds. Jaz and the people around her are all vivid depictions of teenage life. In fact, Jaz herself is a character that I don't see very often but hope to see more of. Raised by her grandmother in a small, and rather racially prejudice, town Jaz has it tough. She constantly feels bullied by her peers, and doesn't feel like she really fits in anywhere. For Jaz, being biracial isn't something to be proud of. It's just another bump in her road to fitting in and leading a "normal" life.
To add it it all, her life happens to be populated with some rather interesting and unique people. There's Lacey, an older girl whose promiscuity and drinking habits hide a dark past. There's Simon, the boyfriend that Jaz isn't sure her mother should have, especially after what she witnessed. Then there is sweet Jackson. The boy who is labeled a "bad boy" by all the people around him, but who doesn't quite seem to fit the bill. Each one of these characters leads Jaz on her road to self-discovery, and helps her learn that what is on the outside is only a small part of what a person truly is.
Truth be told, this book deals with a lot of really tough themes that I think need to be addressed for teens. Janet Gurtler doesn't sugar coat anything at all, which I really admired her for. Racial prejudice, broken families, and isolation are all addressed in this book. Jaz's life isn't easy, and it's through this struggle that we get to see her grow. However things aren't all stormy. There are also themes of love, self-worth, and even understanding woven in as well. If I Tell is a delightfully balanced book from start to finish. It's the type that will have you smiling one moment, and tearing up the next.
Overall this was a quick, sweet, and amazing read. As I said I read it straight through and loved every minute of it! Jaz is a character that I really fell in love with. I hope to see more like her, and thank Janet Gurtler for letting me meet her in the first place.
If I Tell is about Jaz's life. She is a half-caste who is tormented by bullying, friendships because of her heritage. This book is set in a five month period that captures the image of life perfectly. The day that the book started was the day that she saw her mum's boyfriend kissing with her best friend. Sh has to decide whether to keep the secret or tell her mother and watch her family crumble apart.
This book is a fist-class book dealing with the harsh realities of life.
There was so much more to this book than I expected, issues of friendship, bullying, biracial identity, sexual identification, and different family dynamics.
Ms. Gurtler fleshed out wonderfully Jaz's fears and emotions--dealing with her mom's pregnancy, her mom's boyfriend's (who she'd previously had a good relationship with) betrayal, and a changing friendship. But I also loved how everything ended up working out. Not in some fairy tale manner, but in something that could be real. There are beautiful moments of overcoming and of healing.
The romance was kind of surprising and fun to read all at the same time. Jackson was truly mysterious, but I loved how he opened up Jaz.