I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire, May 1, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…”This is an excellent and realistic debut novel. Told from Tess' point of view, I'm Not Her shows the agonizing horror of a young, healthy teen being diagnosed with cancer. Kristina is the athletic superstar sister, and Tess is the "other" sister--the smart, artistic one. As happens in many YA novels (and in many families, I'm sure), Mom identifies more with Kristina and is always in the stands, cheering during a volleyball game, or taking her shopping for the latest fashions. Tess has always identified more with her father, a university professor, but as the events of the novel unfold, Tess begins to see that she's less a reflection of either of her parents and more of an individual than even she gave herself credit for.
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. Yet 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?
While Kristina hides herself away from the world after learning she has cancer, Tess is left to field questions. A-list seniors who previously only knew Tess as "Tee's little sister" are now seeking her out at school and on Facebook, seeking information on their dear friend. Tess is, understandably, both annoyed and flattered by this new popularity.
What I loved about this novel was that Tess was real enough to still want things for herself, but not so much of a monster that she acknowledges her behavior as selfish at the same time. What I didn't love about this novel was how poorly Tess was treated by her parents. Her artwork is treated like a hobby by both parents--Mom even likens it to her own scrapbooking that she does occasionally! Here's this poor kid doing something she loves and no one takes her seriously. Ugh. And even with Honor Society--her parents don't even think that's a big deal. They suck.
Don't even get me started on Tess' "best friend" Melissa. What a beast. And Nick? I desperately wanted him to be so much more than he was. I did love how Kristina's friends rally around Tess when she needs it most. There were so many touching moments in this story. And there were so many "oh-my-God-did-that-just-happen?" moments, that I think I'll end this review here, before I give too much away. Suffice it to say that Janet Gurtler has a talent for emotional, realistic fiction and I can't wait to read more. Oh, but I don't have to--her upcoming novel, If I Tell, is on my nook already, courtesy of NetGalley!)
Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!