If I Tell

If I Tell - Janet Gurtler If there's one thing that I can say about "If I Tell" definitively - it's an addicting read and I honestly couldn't put this book down as I read it. It had me hooked from beginning to end and I honestly say I couldn't put it down to see what happens to Jasmine (Jaz), the leading character. It's very much a drama about a young woman who faces a lot of issues in her life and finds herself carried within a downward spiral of events, so much so that she's almost swallowed by it and even swept within it in some considerations. From dealing with issues involving her biracial identity, to having a mother who didn't raise her and a father who rejected her, to witnessing her best friend making out with her mother's boyfriend, among other factors, it's hard not to feel for Jaz. She has to contend with a lot in what seems like a small amount of time. The conflicts are laid on thick, and things quickly become more complicated as the story goes on.I like the fact that Janet Gurtler doesn't turn away from raising the issues in this book, and how Jaz has to face some harsh realities in which she learns and grows from what she encounters in some cases. I also like the fact that Gurtler represents a multitude of issues within her work, including, but not limited to: racism, conflict with racial identity/biracial heritage, bullying, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, post-partum depression, and homosexuality. I commend her for trying to take these issues and mold them within the larger story to bring to light coming to terms with how flawed people are and that we, as people, gain acceptance by loving/respecting who we are on the inside first and then apply that love/appreciation for the people around us. How finding a way to happiness starts with coming to terms with those things. I get the intended message very clearly, but I'm seriously torn about this book in more ways than one, because I feel like it's so overwhelming and tries to pack so many things within it that it sacrifices plausibility in cases to be able to fit the story in such a limited scope/span. I guess the better question to raise is, in the scheme of all the issues Gurtler brings up - is it realistic? Well, yes and no. It's a bit of both, and sometimes its beautifully illustrated in scenes that actually tugged at my heart strings, while others I had to truly suspend disbelief as to how the coincidences ran and how quick it seems to go through some of those greater contention points. It brings up some great discussion prompts that I think will make people who read it - teens, perhaps even adults - think about as they consider them raised in the scheme of the novel, but I think if it were a bit more evened out, it would've made a far better book as far as having more clarifying impact and emotional resonance. The emotional resonance is there in places, but not taken from as much intimacy as it potentially could've had. I still enjoyed the book for what it offered, and it's one I would recommend people read because it's well-written, engaging, and will allow people to think about the issues raised within it.I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Sourcebooks.Overall score: 4/5