Book Review: "I'm Not Her" by Janet Gurtler

Summary from 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. But, 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?

As a lover of contemporary YA, I get very excited when I hear a new one has been released. I had been hearing good things about Janet Gurtler and her books so I was very eager to read this one. Let me start off by just saying, I loved how the inside of the cover of the book is a light shade of green. You rarely see color INSIDE the book! It was just a very nice touch. And it set the setting for a lovely read.

Tess's beautiful and popular older sister has been diagnosed with cancer. Tess has been used to being in the background and for the most part has been ok with it. Now with this secret she holds, she finds everyone wants to know what happened to Kristina. I'm never surprised at how insensitive teenage girls are. It was very obvious that Kristina's friends are not really her friends as they try to do anything to get the secret out of Tess and then proceed to act without thinking afterwards. Tess tries to handle this new found popularity with minor discomfort. It was good that she wasn't comfortable with it. Her relationship with Nick was a little painful for me because it felt very familiar. But I loved her character and enjoyed watching her grow throughout the story.

I got so annoyed with Tess's parents especially her mother. Before Kristina's diagnosis, it seemed that Tess was ok with living in the background and did her own thing. She didn't seem like she really cared about what her mother thought but still loved her and allowed her to fawn over Kristina. However after the diagnosis, it seems that Tess was the only one that grew up. It amazed me at how clueless her mother was. Her mother was very immature at times and seemed to be living her life through Kristina. It was horrible how she treated Tess and I felt so much pain for her when her mother makes the drunk comments. Her dad sadly is no help either as he chooses to withdraw and not face the reality either. I was quite angry at both their reactions to Tess's art competition and wanted to scream for her.

I was also not prepared for the fate of one of the characters. I did not see that coming at all and I literally gasped very audibly when I read it and said "No!" It was a turning point in the book and it made several characters change because of it. One of these changes involves the relationship between Kristina and Tess and I was quite pleased with it.

Overall, I adored this story. I always enjoy sister stories and this one is another one to add to my list. This book gave insight to many things: sibling relationship, parent/child relationships, how cancer affects families, popularity in school and following your heart. It's not an easy read at times but it's written very beautifully. I'm so glad that Gurtler's next book is in my TBR pile because after discovering her, I want to read more. HIGHLY recommended.

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler is published by Sourcebooks Fire (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. This book has been sitting on the fence with me for a while now. I can't seem to decide if I want to red it or not.
    I liked your review, it might put me over the edge on it!

  2. Anonymous9:14 AM

    I have a copy of this book and after reading your delightful review, I'm going to see which shelf it is on.

  3. Great review, but one question does it end happily or Hamlet style where just about everybody dies?

  4. Anonymous10:14 AM

    I just read Gurtler's other book, which I thought was really good. I am looking forward to this one as well!


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