SUMMARY: 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?
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Freeing but emotional, If I Tell nagivates not only new love but the internal battle waged when knowing you're forced to keep a secret with no good outcome no matter what. Jasmine's turmoil comes through strongly, and the all consuming feeling of knowing someone has done something wrong is splashed across the pages in an almost painful way. Though lagging at some parts, there is a beautiful overall flow to this one that will keep the reader invested in Jasmine and her story.
The Extended Version:
Jasmine is the kind of girl who holds things close to her heart, who is closed off by means of protection even while every new thing thrown at her eats away at her. While this can come across at times as potentially whiny, the overall level of things she is enduring outshines this, keeping her sympathetic and realistic. She doesn't always face things head on, adding as well to the realism note, and making her seem even stronger in the end when she finally is able to face things she's avoided. Her overall character arc has a great build and is intricate throughout.
Jackson is charming and sweet, but far from a doormat in a really great way. He is open and honest, and while he lets Jasmine have her share of being confused and unsure, he also doesn't let it linger too long. His interactions with her are endearing and give readers soft breaks from the turmoil that otherwise drives this book.
The rest of the cast is relatively small but well defined, with each one playing a different role not only in the book but Jasmine's life. Her disappointment in her mother's boyfriend is palpable, and the true slap in the face that his betrayal actually is helps drive both of their stories. Gurtler has a knack for strong characters, giving depth even to those who have small parts.
The plot has an overall steady pace, and while it does lag in a few places, there is a constant emotional air that will keep readers engaged. With some hard truths to face, and vivid character arcs and changes, If I Tell most definitely hits some rough waters that readers of all ages will resonate towards. From the gray areas that come with cheating, to learning to forgive and look past faults, there is a strong coming of age element in this book.
Gurtler's writing is beautiful, vivid in description and voice and pulling readers in early. Smoothly weaving description throughout, the settings ease in without kicking the reader out of the book. With heavy emotion and clear motivations, Gurtler's talents shine.
Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (October 1, 2011)