Thursday, October 20, 2011

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

I'm Not Her is a heartfelt family story, that was somewhat overly dramatic and predictable.

Tess is the unattractive, unpopular, artsy, brainiac sister. Kristina is older, popular, and has a great chance at a volleyball scholarship--until she is diagnosed with bone cancer.

The rest of the book is the family's dealings with the reality of Kristina's illness. I understand that dealing with this is different for every family, much like the grief process. But this family was so dysfunctional that I had trouble feeling very sympathetic. Not until the very end of the book did they mention seeking counseling. Even the doctor was abrupt and unfeeling.  No way would she just dump bad news on this patient and family and then hand them a card and leave. I refuse to believe this happens.

I think the mother was most believable - at first in denial, and then trying to figure out the right thing to do but not being very successful. The father chooses to just work and golf and totally distance himself from a daughter he supposedly loves. Kristina totally cuts herself off from all of her friends. She never grows to see any value to those friendships, and her family did nothing to encourage her to realize this. None of these family members ever progress through the stages of grief. They stay the same throughout the whole book. They needed some counseling, and in the real world they would have gotten some.

Tess, our narrator, was supposedly bearing the brunt of dealing with the situation, but I didn't buy that either. I just didn't feel very sympathetic towards her, and I'm not sure why. Jeremy becomes Kristina's only friend, and I did feel like that was a genuine relationship.

Gurtler's writing was easy, and the plot moved along for the most part. The ending was a surprise, but didn't really impact my connection with this book. My family has experienced a situation similar to this - my brother diagnosed with cancer and being in the hospital for nine months before he succumbed to his illness. We were not perfect, and times were hard, but we were nothing like this family and maybe that's why I had trouble with this story.

Published by Sourcebooks, May 1, 2011
Copy obtained from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
285 pages

Rating: 2.5/5

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  1. I don't mind family drama books, but this one just screams melodrama. It actually sounds very much like Jodi Picoult books which I don't enjoy. I'm going to pass this recommendation to readers who like Picoult though. Thanks for the review, Annette!

  2. I'll be honest, this sounds a bit too melodramatic for me. I appreciate the honest review!
    (PS - I really want to tell the girl on the cover that her sitting position is not exactly ideal...)


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