Published: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Teen Fire
Source: I borrowed this book from the library
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~ The Blurb ~
“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 Thoughts ~
After finishing Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler I knew that I had stumbled upon an author with an incredible ability to craft a beautiful and emotional novel, so it is no surprise that I waited only days before picking up another of her books. I’m Not Her definitely did not disappoint and when I opened the pages I was greeted by an equally intense and gripping story about a family coping with their teenage daughter’s cancer diagnosis. What surprised me about this novel was the fact that Gurtler did not only focus on Kristina and her reaction to her cancer, actually her reaction was secondary in focus, but rather how her family and friends reacted or were impacted by her diagnosis. And this is what has turned Janet Gurtler into a must read author for me, her ability to write a story that is so much bigger than just one character. Reading her work feels a lot like reading about someone’s actual life, as opposed to a work of fiction and I think that is the trademark of a brilliant author.
The characters were flawless, or rather full of flaws that made them perfectly relatable and so easy to become invested in. I love that Gurtler is not afraid to create characters who aren’t perfect, and who own their shortcomings. Kristina was not the model cancer patient full of optimism and using her diagnosis as a way to change her attitude or outlook on life for the better. Tess isn’t the perfect sister and while she does truly care for her sister and is probably the most supportive family member that Kristina has, she still struggles with the things she has had to give up in order to be that rock for the family. And Kristina’s parents were certainly far from being perfect. Actually I spent a lot of time being quite angry at these two for being such ignorant, selfish and emotionally detached people. I’m Not Her also contains a large group of friends who all offer various levels of caring and support and I believe their actions and reactions are extremely similar to the way teenagers would act in real life.
There were a few times in the story that it felt as though there was drama added just for the sake of adding drama. A few of these elements were just thrown in with little explanation and without being fully explored. This distracted me from the emotional intensity of the larger story and I could have done without them.
With the exception of a few underexplored ideas and events, I thoroughly enjoyed I’m Not Her. It was emotional devastating in a beautiful way, and Janet Gurtler has a way with words that will make it impossible for you to put her books down. This is a novel that will say with you long after you finish reading it, in the way only a great story filled with exquisite characters can.