While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!
SYNOPSIS: Jasmine wasn’t suppose to see her best friend making out with her mother’s boyfriend, she wasn’t suppose to see how they embraced madly, driven by lust and alcohol, nor how it looked like the whole event was just getting started, so she turned away and went back to where she came from. Now burdened with this huge secret, Jaz was set on breaking the news to her mother, knowing that it will ruin her relationship with Simon, but it was something she just had to do. Except her mother had some news of her own; she is pregnant. Now she’s holding this information inside, and is unable to make amends with Lacey, her ex-best friend, so she begins turning to the new hot guy working at the same coffee shop she does. Jackson is there for her when she feels as if no one else is.
REVIEW: If I Tell had me hooked from the beginning. Janet Gurtler lets out just enough information at a time to keep you pushing forward in the book to find out the ‘why’s’ or so you’ll find out what happens next. To me, this was more of a story of coming into one’s self than it is about keeping a deep dark secret, but this thing looming over Jaz’s head is what causes her life to go spiraling off path in the first place.
Jaz is half black, was born to a teenage mom, her dad skipped town, and she was raised by her grandparents. Already, she has a lot to deal with. Throw in the fact that all the kids in school look down on her for being so different – not black, and not white, there is not a crowd that she belongs to. Now throw in the fact that you’ve witness your mom’s boyfriend kissing your best friend, and you’ve got a mess. The thing is, Jaz, behaved as if she was younger than her seventeen years. While she was dealing with a lot of issues, instead of behaving like a mature young-adult, she would fly off the handle, yell out biting words to hurt her target and storm off. Sometimes she had the decency to cry and feel bad about what she had done, but not enough to try and make efforts not to do it again. Her biggest problem, as her friend Ashley points out, is self-esteem. She does not think very highly of herself. If you think you are the victim, often times you will find yourself the victim. Point in case, the high school snob, Tina.
Here’s the kicker, with all these things going wrong for Jaz; she’s got a huge secret, and she feels like the world is out to get her because of her skin color, what she does not see is that she’s got this huge support system all around her. She is blessed with more friends than some people have, granted it’s a group of misfits, but together they form a crowd all their own, one in which they all belong. Despite the big fat huge mistake that any normal person probably would have trouble getting over, she’s got Lacey, who has been her best friend for a while. She’s got Ashley, the lesbian who moved to her school to get away from her own bullying. She’s got Jackson, who has his own secrets, and also was in juvy for dealing drugs. She’s got Simon, who once again made a really big mistake, but who loves her and has helped her understand a part of herself no one else could. She’s got her grandma, who for all intents and purposes was her mother. Even her own mother is there, even if her role is more of an older sister than that of a mother. So reading it from my end, seeing all that she did have and was missing out on proved to be a bit of a frustrating for me. While Jaz was sinking in self-pity and throwing self-destructive tantrums, these people are sticking by her through thick and thin.
I loved her support system. I loved all of her friends. Ashley was earnest and kind. Jackson was sexy and understanding and unbelievably patient. These characters have started to help Jaz see that life isn’t as bad as she makes it out to be. I can’t say everything she felt was all in her head, it absolutely was not, but thankfully, at the end of the book I think she realized that it was time to heal and move on from past hurts and begin to look forward, making this book more than worth the read!