RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler

B-

Title: I'm Not Her
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publication Info: Sourcebooks 2011
ISBN: 978-1402256363
Genre: Young Adult

I'm Not Her This review was written by Jennifer. This story was nominated in the Best YA Romance and Best First Book category.

The summary:     

“For the first time in my life, I didn't feel envy…” Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that's okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer.

Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. But, the smiles of her picture perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn't hold it together, who will?

And here is Jennifer's review:

This is a book that I read but stepped away from for a while before writing up a review. I felt I needed a perspective that time would give me, and yet I find I the impression the last chapter left me with remains unchanged.

In brief, this is the story of Tessa, a fifteen year old high school freshman who happily resides in the shadow of her older sister, Kristina’s athletic stardom. Tessa thrives in the shadows, earning high marks scholastically and sketching madly. But when Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer, the girls’ roles reverse: Kristina retreats into hiding, and Tessa is forced out of her shell.

Gurtler handles the evolution of Tessa’s character masterfully. By the end of the story, Tessa is a stronger version of herself, but at heart remains very much the girl she was. The same can be said for the change in Kristina, who transforms from a girl who thrived on adoration of others into a girl with the ability to discover who she is outside of the world’s definition of her.  It’s for all those reasons – plus some very memorable, highly endearing secondary characters – that I want to love this book.

So here’s the “but”: I didn’t love this book. Despite enjoying Tessa’s strength, the weakness, stupidity, and cold-heartedness of the adults in her world pushed the story beyond the boundaries of belief. The constant reminders of how financially well-off her family was, the willingness of Tessa to behave just as her parents do and leave her sister to visit with a friend rather than trying to connect with her on her own, the obsession with an art contest for which she sketches madly but predictably doesn’t complete her project until the last possible minute, and the fact that her mother could give Cinderella’s evil stepmother a run for her money did nothing to serve what could have been a wonderful story about two sisters coming together through adversity.

In the end, the negatives, for me, are what remain in my mind and not even the recollection of Tessa’s truest friendship can dispel them.


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