Friday, September 02, 2011

I'm Not Her, by Janet Gurtler

Tess lacks the popularity, good looks, and confidence of her older sister Kristina. She's a wallflower and utterly ignored by her sister's friends (unless they are drunk guys hitting on her). However the fates change suddenly when Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer. Now, as Kristina struggles with chemo and withdraws into self-pity, it is Tess who takes center stage at school as she becomes the point of contact with the outside world. And as their parents start to come unglued, it is Tess who surprises everyone (not least herself) by stepping forward and being the strong one.

The story could so easily fall into melodrama, but even as one trauma after another piles up, the story somehow never grows to be too much. The ending is bittersweet and some of the losses are completely unexpected and will hit you in the gut. However, the messages of the story (standing up for yourself, staying loyal to your family) are presented powerfully. It's a heartwarming story of sisterly devotion presented in a satisfying fashion.

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