Jasmine is the result of a one night stand. She’s half-white and half-black, the child of a black football player and a blond socialite. She thinks that she knows more than anybody about mistakes. She doesn’t connect with her parents and living in a small town makes things even more difficult. Jasmine should only be struggling with finding herself, but when she makes a simple discovery that could affect her mother, she has to make a choice. Should she reveal that she saw her mother’s boyfriend kissing her own best friend, or acknowledge that people make mistakes and keep quiet?
I found myself very deeply embedded in the story within If I Tell. I ignored piles of homework to finish this book because the characters and the romance were stunning in their simplicity.
I don’t know what it is about this book that improved the writing, but I felt that Janet Gurtler was connecting to her audience on a much higher level in If I Tell than in her other novel, I’m Not Her (see our review).
The best part of the novel to me was the constant theme of mistakes. Gurtler explored the question of whether humans should be forgiven for their mistakes, or if these mistakes should be allowed to shape the rest of their lives. Another huge theme of this book was family, and I loved that. We need more of that in young adult fiction; it was nice to read about a mixed-race family and family values in general. It was wholesome and beautiful all at once.
At first, the plot moved a bit slower than I would have liked it to, but it was still entertaining enough to keep me interested. Part of this might be because of the character development occurring, but I hope that Janet Gurtler’s writing will keep improving. On the slope it’s at, the next novel should be a knockout!
Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Fire. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.