I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages (Paperback): 285
“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?
There is no denying that this book is heartbreaking; Tessa, an artistic introvert, is thrust in the middle of her familial crisis as her older, and extremely popular, sister is diagnosed with cancer. This isn't the tale or recount of a girl struggling with a fight to survive; it is Tessa's story about struggling to watch someone she loves suffer as her life changes beyond anything she recognizes.
I wanted to like this book, I wanted to love it but I was exasperated with what I found when I finally got the chance to read it. This book expressed some of the most real and hard situations with cheesy delivery and disappointing execution.
It wasn't that I couldn't get behind the character of Tess, I felt so strongly for her and what she must be going through as she watches her life 360 in mere days. The way that she was handling situations was incredibly accurate to the ego-centrism teenagers can sometime experience; but I feel that it was still unreal that her parents were so numb to their daughter. For her mother to harbor the negativity she did, the lack of belief in Tess, she allowed Tess to get away with saying, and behaving, in some outlandish ways.
A particularly traumatizing situation in the middle of the book, which I will refrain from spoiling, is handled haphazardly. The delivery of knowledge to the character, and in turn the reader, is above and beyond cheesy. That attitude and execution of the event diminishes the effect the event had on me as a reader. Not only was it forecasted but it lost all authenticity by the way in which the author wrote of it.
Towards the end of the book, there were some random and completely pointless subjects mentioned. Tess' mom refers to her habit of scrapbooking that is, at no other point, mentioned or hinted at in the book. She also refers to some completely obscure honor program, The Toastmasters, which only serves to show her complete apathy towards her daughter. These references left me pulling my hair out; they were irrelevant and insignicant.
The closer I came to the end of the book, the more nervous I grew. There was no build towards a soft ending, there was no hint at resolution, there was nothing to indicate the end of the book was drawing near; and then, the book just ended. In the blink of an eye, it was all over with no resolution for the family, for Kristina, and no closure for the reader.
I can't stress how badly I wanted to like this book, but I just can't.
Rating out of 5: