I'm Not Her Review

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Title: I'm Not Her
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 1, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

“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?
Tess and Kristina couldn't be more different if they tried. Gorgeous and athletic, Kristina is the envy of all the girls and object of all boys' affection in high school. Tess is a budding artist, a quiet freshman and a self-professed geek. She's ok with it. She's like her father, while Kristina is like her mother. When Kristina discovers her knee injury is actually cancer though, her pretenses begin to slip and suddenly, her popularity shifts. While before she was beloved, now she's beloved and pitied, and Tess is the key to all things Kristina. But Tess never wanted the limelight, and she certainly didn't want it at Kristina's expense...especially when she might lose her sister forever.

I'm Not Her is, by no means, a light read. Tackling difficult material like cancer, the bonds of sisterhood and family and testing the waters of coming-of-age, it's written to push the envelope past normal into something more meaningful. Author Janet Gurtler provides the reader with the story of two sisters living polar opposite lives, simply orbiting around one another until an occurrence forces their worlds to collide. I'm Not Her is a story of finding oneself, the importance of family and the depth of character in the midst of turmoil and despair, written from the unadulterated viewpoint of a wallflower.

While, in theory, I should have loved I'm Not Her, I have to say I'm rather on the fence about rating it. Here's the thing. The author has a great writing voice that's accessible, easy to follow and perfectly describes two very different characters. That said, however, I don't think I ever really got to know Kristina past the surface, so I had a hard time truly feeling sorry for her, and Tess, too, was a bit surface-only. Furthermore, I love when books jump into the action from the get-go, but I felt I'm Not Her was a bit forced. Jumping straight from an overplayed high school drinking party (which, by the way, I never experienced...was I a super nerd?) to the drama of cancer was a bit much for me, and how the family handled it immediately felt foreign, as well. I guess, while I'm Not Her was meant to be emotional, it felt more jarring to me.

Now, I'm not saying I'm Not Her is a bad book by any means, but it is an example of what I don't really love about contemporary fiction. The author, however, has a great writing voice, and I would love to read more of her work in the future. I give this book a 2.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA who especially enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Great review! This definitely sounds like something I would like, although I am big on character development, so that might be a bit of a problem for me with this one!

    p.s I'm glad you got your blogger problem sorted. It's been glitchy for me all evening. Grrr...!

  2. Great review! The premise sort of reminds me of My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, which I loved!
    I am sorry that the book is disappointing - I was expecting a lot from it.

  3. Good review. Sorry you didn't love it. It is really hard when you don't know the characters enough to empathize with them.

  4. Hmm, nice to hear the voice is good, but it sounds a bit intense. Great honest review,

  5. Ha, I never went to a drinking party in high school either. We're still cool, Melissa! :P

    It's nice to hear that the author had a great voice, but I'm kind of wary of the jarring sensation you mentioned. For a topic this sensitive, things need to be slower, I think. Plus, I'm a total wimp when it comes to sick-people stories, so I'll probably skip I'm Not Her.
    Thanks for the review! :)

  6. Thanks for your honesty. I like the cover, but I think I'll skip the book.

  7. LoL, you're weren't a super nerd! I never felt the need to go to the drinking parties in high school either. Great review. I'm hoping to read this one soon. I've read cancer-related stories before, but I haven't tried to read one since my own diagnosis two years ago...will be interesting to see how it comes across to me. Hm...

  8. Light on character develop is a surefire way to keep me from enjoying a book. I do like reading about sisters and seeing how their relationships are during their teen years and this sounds similar to the one I had with my sister minus the cancer. Great review.

  9. Yeah, I agree with you and the other commenters regarding character development. I enjoyed your review, but I'm not sure this book is for me.

  10. Oh man, too bad! I really wanted to read this book. I might wait a while on this one!

  11. Thanks for the great review Melissa! I like the premise for this one so it's a shame about the character development and other pitfalls. I think I'll wait a bit before deciding if I read it :)

  12. I am really intrigued by the premise on this one, but I'd probably feel frustrated if the subject matter is so heavy, yet the character remain kind of superficial. Thanks for your honest review, Melissa. I think I will pass on it for now.

  13. I have this one, but I've yet to get around to it. It's too bad you didn't love it, but I appreciate you letting us know exactly what was so off-putting about it. For something so emotional, I would have expected you, as a reader, to have a better feel for the characters. I still plan on reading it, but I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the review.

  14. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one to the full extent, but I definitely get what you're saying about character development as I'm a reader who really enjoys seeing authors delve beneath the surface of their characters. With that said though, I think I'd probably still give this one a chance, but would pick it up at the library.

  15. I never experienced that either so you're not alone there. Ok this was not about drinking...

    Too bad you had issues with the book :( it did seem to have promise

  16. This sounds like an interesting book, although I'm not sure if I'll try to pick it up right now. As always, very glad for your honest reviews. :)

  17. I had the opposite experience with I'M NOT HER. I picked up an ARC at TLA and once I began reading I couldn't stop. I was touched by the sister friendship and how both Tess and Kristina grew and changed. No book is for everybody but this book was for me and I hope it will find many a reader.

  18. l totally understand where your coming from, l think with a book like this it is really important that you can feel sorry for a character. l have read so many books where they are good but l just don't feel for the character.

  19. I think it's really hard to give an honest review when you had issues with the book,but you do it in such a way that even criticism sounds good. That being said, this is one thing I avoid, cancer or anything with certain death in contemp. fiction. They are just a little too realistic for me. But I could learn from your reviewing style!


  20. Sorry to hear this one fell short. Thanks for the honest review!


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