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IF I TELL by Janet Gurtler

IF I TELL

By Janet Gurtler

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4022-6103-9
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

What’s a girl to do—tell or not? High-school senior Jaz sees her mother’s boyfriend, Simon, sharing a serious kiss with her own best friend, then finds out her mom is pregnant with his baby.

Besides the formidable issues that kiss creates in her relationships with her mom and Simon, Jaz has other problems. She’s biracial in a town that’s almost completely white, and because of a brutal bullying incident when she was a fourth grader that caused her to purposely create a distance between herself and many classmates, Jaz doesn’t have much of a support group. When a handsome transfer student with a drug-dealing background insinuates himself into her life, she has to decide if he can be trusted and loved. All signs are that Jaz was reasonably well adjusted before the kiss, making her relentless animosity toward her mom and Simon—that lingers annoyingly on and on, past the birth of her little brother—disconcertingly out of character. The conflict just doesn’t seem to be sufficient cause to sustain the depth of her anger through a full novel, quite possibly outlasting the sympathy of readers. This problem is only partially ameliorated by believable dialogue and attractive secondary characters.

While not completely successful, this effort may appeal to teen readers that want more than a touch of conflict stirred into a simmering romance. (Fiction. 12 & up)