November 10, 2011

Book Review: If I Tell by Jane Gutler

If I Tell
The Deal: Jaz has always felt out of place in her small town as the one and only bi-racial girl around, product of a fling between her very blond mother and a black football player - who doesn't want anything to do with her. Always an outside, Jaz has made a point of keeping everyone at a distance, except for her best friend Lacey and her new friend Ashley.

Aside from that, her life isn't too bad. Her father might not want her but her maternal grandparents adore her, and even though her grandfather died a few years ago, she loves her Grandmother and has a good relationship with her mom and her mom's boyfriend Simon.

Until the night she catches Simon kissing Lacey, and then is told -the very next day - that her mom is pregnant. With a new baby on the way and without Lacey or Simon to talk to, Jaz ends up feeling more lost than ever.

My Thoughts: I think the official summary of If I Tell is a bit missleading, as it makes it sound like this story is all about the secret Jaz is trying to keep from her mom, but I thought this was more about how Jaz wasn't sure where she belonged because she was both black and white, and how left out she always felt because of it.

And, oddly enough, I had a problem with that. Jaz gets very repetitive very fast, and she doesn't seem to realize - at all - that she's at least in part responsible for her isolation, as she has kept everyone at arms lenght since a bad bullying incident when she was in the fourth grade. More over, she is surrounded by love - her grandparents always adored her, as did her mother even though she doesn't know much about being a mom - and so her feelings of not belonging came out more like whining than anything else.

There were some nice characters in the story, like Ashley and this guy Jaz likes, but I didn't like Jaz a lot so this book wasn't a winner for me though the writing was pretty solid.


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