Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

I'm Not Her
by Janet Gurtler
Young Adult Realistic Contemporary
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.92
Pages: 285

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

“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. Yet 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?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I didn't really know what to expect of this book going into it. It was on my to-read list and I saw it was at the library and so I decided to read it. Only after I read it did I realize that nearly all of my friends have read and loved it. 

I'm no exception. I was hesitant to read this book because it's a cancer book. Since I've had family members with this disease, they always hit hard. But I'm glad I read it. I loved it.

Tess's sister Kristina is perfect—she's the athletic one, the popular one, the one boys flock over, and the one her parents love. Tess has always felt like she's been in Kristina's shadows and she's always envied her sister. Then Kristina gets cancer.

Kristina and her family refuse to tell anybody and Tess finds herself having to deal with all of Kristina's friends asking her where she is. Suddenly people are noticing her. And then when the word gets out, people suddenly want Tess to give them updates. She's no longer in the shadows, but her family is breaking apart. Her dad and her mom aren't dealing and suddenly Tess is the only one dealing.

She must deal with all her parents. She must deal with the fact that her dreams no longer matter. Her grades don't matter. She's not complaining. Kristina is more important, but couldn't somebody at least acknowledge her sacrifice. And then there are the boys who suddenly are entering her life. How is she supposed to deal with them.

I loved this book. It was heartbreaking, but so realistic. I think all of us have felt like Tess at one point. There's the Kristina who we want to be, the one with the perfect life and then we realize his or her life is actually not perfect.

I thought Tess's parents were jerks. There are so many ways to deal with a child having cancer. I've seen that firsthand. And yet Tess's parents just didn't deal. They were such jerks to Tess. They ridiculed her dreams and her. I hated that. Parents are supposed to build up not tear down.

But that's the power of this novel. It made me feel so deeply. I was sucked into this story from page one until the last page. It's a poignant read. It's not a tear-jerker. So often books about cancer feel like they were written simply to make you cry. This one was about cancer, but it was about so much more. It was about Tess, who did not have cancer. It was about Tess finding the strength to stand on her own. It was about Tess learning about what really makes a friend. It was about being okay with who you are.

I loved this book and the power behind it. I'll definitely be reading more by this author. 

In Summary: Gurtler has created a book that held me captivated. This is a book that will stick with me long after I turned the last page. A powerful, poignant, beautiful read.

The Wrap-up: I loved this book. It was such a powerful one. I'd definitely recommend it to all teens. The teenage years are rough and we all struggle with the issues Tess faced. A powerful book that I would definitely give as a gift. Read this one. It's realistic contemporary at its best. 


Danica Page

Up Next: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows


  1. I stumbled across your blog through another book blogs comment and I am sure glad I did! It's always nice to meet fellow bibliophiles!

    I know this is a morbid thing to say, but books like this are usually my favorite. There is something about a storyline that is so far from home (knock on wood, cross my fingers, say a little prayer) such as people dealing with tragedy that it opens my eyes to a new problem and I love seeing how different characters and therefore authors handle grief and problems.

    I just subscribed to your blog and cant wait to see more updates and reviews to add to my ever growing need to read list. This book will definitely make the cut

    -Stacy at Longtime Lover Of Literature

    1. I'm glad you like my blog.

      I don't think your comment is morbid. It's always interesting to read books that are far away from your own reality. That way you get to experience new things.

      I'm so glad you subscribed to my blog. That just made my day. Thanks and I hope you get to this one soon.


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