April 26, 2012
I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler
All that Tess can think about when her sister drags her to a party is getting out. After all, her sister Kristina is the wildly popular gorgeous one that everyone wants to be around. In fact, the only guys that talk to Tess all evening want to talk about Kristina. Simply put, Tess is sick and tired of being in Kristina’s shadow. She doesn’t begrudge Kristina her life, at least not much, but she’s sick of simply being Kristina’s little sister.
Then the unthinkable happens. The pain in Kristina’s leg is much more than a strain or a bruise. Its cancer. As treatments begin, first Kristina gets violently sick, then her beautiful hair falls out.
As one procedure follows another, Tess must spend each day in school misleading those around her. The problem is that her Kristina doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy. She doesn’t want teary visitors or half-baked sympathy. But what can Tess say when people ask her how Kristina is doing, especially as her sister’s absence stretches into long weeks. Now she isn’t just Kristina’s sister, she’s Kristina’s alibi.
The stress that Tess is under stresses her friendships even as she gets to know a new circle of teens who first want to know how Kristina is doing but later come to worry about Tess as well.
Throughout it all, Tess has to find a way to stay true to who she is, to make people see her for what she values and to help her sister stay strong and true.
In spite of the lower reading level, this book is definitely young adult. There is alcohol and sexual situations and many, many dark moments.
In spite of this, I give this book two thumbs up. It is an amazing story about self-discovery, the human spirit, and true friendship. You may need a few tissues at various key moments but you will come out of it with a feeling of hope for Tess and the future of strong young women like her.