Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 1, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
“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.