Book Review: If I Tell

If I Tell

Janet Gurtler


256 pages

Jasmine is a a teen brimming with angst.  She hasn’t lived a charmed life.  Her mother was just a teenager when she was born and couldn’t handle the responsibility of raising a child so Jasmine was raised by her maternal grandparents.  Jasmine’s father has been out of the picture so she looked up to her grandfather, who died just a few years ago.  Jasmine’s real father is black, so Jasmine is biracial.  Her racial identity is something she has struggled with, so her mom’s black boyfriend Simon has been a major influence in her life, since he is one of the only black people she knows. That’s what makes his behavior that much more hurtful.

Jasmine’s mom recently found out she was pregnant.  The news has come as a shock to everyone, including Simon.  He reacts by going to a party with his teenage brother, where Jasmine spies him making out with her best friend Lacey.  Jasmine’s anger and humiliation is compounded by her mom’s pregnancy, and she has no idea whether to tell her mom the truth about Simon.  The longer she keeps the secret inside, the more she lashes out at those around her, and the rage she feels is painfully apparent.

Jasmine is also forging a relationship with the new guy in town, Jackson, but she has always closed herself off to those around her, and she is pushing him away with all her might.  It was too bad because Jackson was my favorite character in the book.  He is introspective and genuine in a way most high school boys aren’t, and his feelings toward Jasmine were heartfelt.

If I Tell dealt with so many issues that are relevant today, and not even issues that are exclusive to teens.  The racial identity themes were portrayed realistically and I could really understand where she was coming from.  I think this book will speak volumes to anyone that has similar feeling and confusion.  What really interested me about this book though was Jasmine’s struggle about whether to keep Simon’s secret or not.

I am usually pretty black and white when it comes to situations like this.  I would have been unequivocal about the fact that Jasmine should have told her mom the truth.  And for at least the first part of the book, I was silently urging her to spill the beans.  I just feel like honesty is the best policy.  But the further the story went, the more I realized it wasn’t as clear cut as all that.  For one, Jasmine’s mom had a difficult pregnancy, and once the baby was born she suffered from severe post partum depression.  So I started to wonder if maybe it was a secret Jasmine should keep.

If I Tell makes such an impact and is one of the most powerful YA books I have read in a long time.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket (author interview)

Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

9 Responses

  1. Sounds interesting. I hadn’t heard of this one before.

  2. Wow sounds like there is a lot to talk about in this book! I’m always interested in books with racial issues but this one sounds totally scandalous. And sad but an intriguing read anyway!

  3. This sounds like a great read for book clubs, so much to discuss! I am curious to see how this story turns out.

  4. This book came in the mail for me last week. I am looking forward to getting around to reading it!

  5. I really want to read this one. It sounds like a book that I would really enjoy. Great review! Making sure to add this to my wish list.

  6. A strong review that I really respect on this difficult issue. I agree with Beth above, it would make a great book for book clubs! Thanks for stopping by my blog, too. I always love what you have to contribute to books here and with my reviews.


  7. One of the most powerful YA books you’ve read in a long time? That’s pretty high praise to me!

  8. This sounds like a very relevant book!

  9. It looks very good! I’ll have to see if I can track down a copy (and then magic up some time to actually read it). 🙂

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