Saturday, February 16, 2013

January Book Club: I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

Tess has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful, popular older sister Kristina. And she's okay with that. She's fine being the smart one, the one with only one good friend who blends in the background and doesn't attract a lot of attention. But when Kristina is diagnosed with cancer Tess' world is turned upside down. Suddenly all of the seniors are talking to her, her best friend is acting strange, and the family is falling apart right before her eyes. How can she be the strong one when everything she's ever known has changed?

With her signature breathtaking honesty, Janet Gurtler takes a storyline that could be considered overdone and breathes heart-wrenching life (and a touch of humor) into the lives of these characters.

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Rebecca T. here - I stumbled upon Janet Gurtler by happy accident. She was doing a signing with the Roecker sisters in New York and I picked up Who I Kissed to read before the signing (I like to check out an author's books before I meet them if I can). I devoured the book in a couple of hours and cried the whole time. When I told this to Janet at the signing she got excited and asked if she could hug me. Most YA contemporary doesn't really do it for me, but Janet's books are all raw, real, and beautifully written.

What we thought. While we don't have any major spoilers, we are talking about it as though we've read it:

Jenn N - While it may seem awkward to say you enjoyed a book about a teenage girl with bone cancer, it was an enjoyable read. The book reminded me of Lurlene McDaniel's "One Last Wish" novels. The book also did a great job of exploring the effect that cancer has on an entire family and not just the one with the illness. Despite its grim topic, the novel wasn't overly bogged down with despair. It had a mix of heart and comic relief too. the ending is surprising and satisfying.

Eileen - YA books about 'real life' situations rarely catch my attention. This was definitely an exception. Tess felt real. Her emotions and awkward moments while dealing with her sister's cancer along with normal teen issues were well portrayed. The twist at the end made for a different but still satisfying book.

Rebecca T. - I think the thing I loved most about this book was the way the family situation was portrayed. Seeing Tess watch her parents fall apart because of the cancer felt so real. And I especially appreciated the way everything wasn't wrapped up perfectly at the end. There were still major problems that the family would have to deal with. It made everything feel so much more realistic. I think Clark was my favorite character and I loved the humor woven in - the way the rest of Tess' life kept moving and changing even though she was obviously mostly caught up in the situation with her sister.

Have you read I'm Not Her? Is there another teen book about real life issues that you have found particularly compelling? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

This month we decided to read Beautiful Creatures to go along with the movie release. Our bookclub meeting is also going to be an Oscar watching party. If you check out our Twitter feed on Oscar night we might even have some commentary to share with you.

Happy reading!

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