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If I Tell You the Truth

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Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara. Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara. Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.


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Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara. Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara. Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.

30 review for If I Tell You the Truth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tabatha (tab.talks.books)

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I struggled with rating this book. I always feel books that touch upon highly sensitive topics need to be 5⭐️ because, though I’ve never (thankfully) experienced these things I know many people who have and it changed their lives immensely. This book has many trigger warnings, which the author dedicates a page of listing them to warn the reader prior to jumping in. This book is half novel half poetry and it is really amazing. I love the set up and it breaks up some of the heavier topics. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I struggled with rating this book. I always feel books that touch upon highly sensitive topics need to be 5⭐️ because, though I’ve never (thankfully) experienced these things I know many people who have and it changed their lives immensely. This book has many trigger warnings, which the author dedicates a page of listing them to warn the reader prior to jumping in. This book is half novel half poetry and it is really amazing. I love the set up and it breaks up some of the heavier topics. It’s a story about a girl Kiran who leaves Punjab to Canada to study Biology at college after she is sexually assaulted and impregnated by her rapist. It goes into detail about how this young girl survived all odds, raised her daughter and lived in Canada undocumented for 20+ years. Then as you go we start to change perspectives to Kirans daughter Sahaara and what it is like growing up worrying about her undocumented mom and navigating school and love and college. So many heartbreaks and triumphs in this book. I read it in less than 24 hours. Also there’s a cute love story that unfolds but we never really know the outcome. Also the ending, wasn’t what I was hoping for but I mean, this would be real life and things just don’t change overnight. This was a real eye opening book for me to read about immigrants, rape, hope, deceit, friendship, fear & love.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Just over a year after her debut novel, When You Ask Me Where I’m Going, captivated readers, Jasmin Kaur is releasing her sophomore work, If I Tell You the Truth. With a similarly unique format, Kaur weaves together prose, poetry, and illustrations to bring readers back to the lives of the characters from her first book, while also expanding the bounds of their world and of her storytelling. If I Tell You the Truth is the powerful tal Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Just over a year after her debut novel, When You Ask Me Where I’m Going, captivated readers, Jasmin Kaur is releasing her sophomore work, If I Tell You the Truth. With a similarly unique format, Kaur weaves together prose, poetry, and illustrations to bring readers back to the lives of the characters from her first book, while also expanding the bounds of their world and of her storytelling. If I Tell You the Truth is the powerful tale of a mother and daughter pair, Kiran and Sahaara, which alternates between each of their viewpoints. The basic premise is this: Kiran has fled her home in India after being sexually assaulted by her fiance’s brother, leading to a pregnancy for which she is shamed by her family. She begins to attend university in Canada as previously planned; but after Sahaara is born, and her family cuts ties with her, it becomes more and more difficult to attend school while working to support herself and her child. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    An emotional story soaked in truth and told through a mix of prose and poetry, it brings forward the highly realistic yet under-explored experiences of immigration, the underlying horror of every day while the fear of deportation is a sword dangling above one's neck, the unneeded gender-restricted expectations set for a daughter by her family, the happiness of bringing a new life to this world being drenched in the pain of being assaulted, the trauma that transcends generation, and the overall b An emotional story soaked in truth and told through a mix of prose and poetry, it brings forward the highly realistic yet under-explored experiences of immigration, the underlying horror of every day while the fear of deportation is a sword dangling above one's neck, the unneeded gender-restricted expectations set for a daughter by her family, the happiness of bringing a new life to this world being drenched in the pain of being assaulted, the trauma that transcends generation, and the overall beauty of finding trust and support in a friend. ↣ listened to the audiobook on scribd ↢

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara Jovanovic

    2021 why?? 😭

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jade Melody

    **Trigger Warnings:(view spoiler)[ sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, anxiety** (hide spoiler)] This book was intense and it was a lot to take in. I read this book in a little bit over 24 hours so all of its contents are swirling around in my head, but it was so captivating that I had to keep going. I'm not going to describe it great detail what this about, because it will be triggering to some people, but the story told **Trigger Warnings:(view spoiler)[ sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, anxiety** (hide spoiler)] This book was intense and it was a lot to take in. I read this book in a little bit over 24 hours so all of its contents are swirling around in my head, but it was so captivating that I had to keep going. I'm not going to describe it great detail what this about, because it will be triggering to some people, but the story told in this book is an important one. These characters were lovable and I ached for them. I felt the pain through the authors writing and I just wanted to do something to help them even though they are fictional. This book is so good. I cannot say it enough. There is so much emotion in the audiobook as well since the author narrates the story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shivani

    Wow. This book has left me utterly speechless. I know that this work will sit with me for a lifetime. As a 2nd generation South Asian immigrant there were many things in this book that hit extremely close to home, especially in the aspect of family relationships and friendships. I felt deeply connected to each of the people in this collection and my heart both ached and was so proud reading the words on every page. This book should be one every single person needs to read in their life. It talks Wow. This book has left me utterly speechless. I know that this work will sit with me for a lifetime. As a 2nd generation South Asian immigrant there were many things in this book that hit extremely close to home, especially in the aspect of family relationships and friendships. I felt deeply connected to each of the people in this collection and my heart both ached and was so proud reading the words on every page. This book should be one every single person needs to read in their life. It talks about experiences that real immigrant families go through and the struggles of coming to a new country and setting up a new life. We always hear on the news of people getting deported and being forced to leave the US, sometimes when this is the only country and home they've ever known. This book is raw and dives into these topics fearlessly and it has educated me, made me a more aware and compassionate individual. This book stands for feminism and promoting woman's ability's to make their own choices about their body. This book is an embodiment of things that are wrong in the world that we as the general population need to know about because ignorance does not help people in these situations. Genuinely, one of the best books of this year. I don't have enough words to praise this work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Definitely a read that will stay with me

  8. 5 out of 5

    Teenage Reads

    Plot: *Trigger Warnings: sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, anxiety* Kiran came to Canada to major in biology at Simon Fraser University. As an immigrant from Punjab, Kiran realized that British Columbia is a lot different than her hometown, but at the university orientation, she met Joti, another Punjab immigrant that has been living in Canada for a while and took Kiran under her wing. Kiran had high expectations of her t Plot: *Trigger Warnings: sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, anxiety* Kiran came to Canada to major in biology at Simon Fraser University. As an immigrant from Punjab, Kiran realized that British Columbia is a lot different than her hometown, but at the university orientation, she met Joti, another Punjab immigrant that has been living in Canada for a while and took Kiran under her wing. Kiran had high expectations of her to do well in her major and then to come back and marry the man her mother wanted because he was from a “good family” one that would not embarrass her. To Kiran, her mother was always harsh and controlling, someone to obey and not to oppose. This is why Kiran chose to call her mother from Canada about the fact that she did not fly to Canada alone. Inside her stomach was a baby girl, soon to be named Sahaara, and Kiran was not going to get rid of. After her mother flew back to Canada, for Kiran’s birthday, and try to set up the abortion appointments herself, Kiran stood her ground, saying that she will have her child. Getting disowned by her parents, kicked out of her uncle and aunt’s house, Kiran moved in with Joti and her mother, to continue going to school for her visa, and raise Sahaara. When the university kicked Kiran out, because she could no longer keep up the course load along with working and raising her daughter, Kiran’s visa expired, leaving her in Canada with no papers. Not leaving her Canadian daughter, Kiran stayed, taking any job that would not ask for her papers, raising her daughter, and fearing the police. Sahaara grew up, forming a close friendship with her neighbor Jeevan, went to school, fell in love, graduated, went to college while living with her mother and her mother’s chosen family. Kiran never talked about Saaharra’s father, and it was not till Sahaara was older was when Kiran finally told her why. Her father was a powerful man in Punjab, one that abused his position of power and raped Kiran. The result of that abuse was Sahaara. Urging her mother to tell her story, about the rape, about being undocumented in Canada, about how when they fight she cannot look at her daughter without seeing him. Trading perspectives of Sahaara and Kiran, starting in August of 2001 and ending in June 2021, is the story of Kiran’s fight to stay in Canada, and Sahaara’s upbringing and trying to discover herself. Thoughts: Jasmin Kaur takes you on the emotional story of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, on this twenty-year journey across the countries of Canada and India. This review is hard to write as there is so much depth in this novel, that I am surprised that Kaur did not go into thousands of pages, but kept it at a long novel of over four hundred pages. Kaur writes from the perspective of Kiran and Sahaara, mainly from Kiran at the beginning of the novel, and then switches to Sahaara’s when she is about ten and for the remainder of the novel. The trigger warnings at the start of the novel (and at the start of my review) are no joke, as Kaur takes you on the emotional journey of these two women. From the start where Joti tells Kiran that “Freshe” means fresh off the boat for immigrants, to the people in power trying to take advantage of Kiran as she tries to find a way to stay in Canada with her daughter. Her fear of being deported is etched into Sahaara’s life, of her mother fidgeting when cops are nearby, and her not being able to drive because she does not have her license. Yet, Kaur writes to Saharra to see her mother as strong, determined, yet full of fear and anxiety towards her daughter, and depression for what she has endured in the past. The ending, where accurate for many cases, is still heart wrenching, making this novel more realistic than the fiction it is meant to be. Written between chapters is poetry that is meant to be taken from the point of view of Kiran and Sahaara, reflective of what is going on in their lives, which is a beautiful edition and truly makes the book flow more powerful. The part that got me the most was Sahaara realizing whenever she and her mother fought, the reason why her mother could not look at her was that she saw her rapist in Sahaara’s features, even though she loved her daughter with all her heart. Truly an emotional novel, one that will capture your hearts for this mother-daughter pair that spans over two decades of their lives and a must-read for anyone who wants to shed some tears out of love.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Hamm

    If I Tell You The Truth Is One Of The Best Books I Have Read I Love Jasmin Kaurś Writing It Hit Close To Home And Broke Me And I Loved This Book

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shazia Khan

    "But i couldn't yet explain this cocktail of everything i felt: two teaspoons of hope three tablespoons of fear six dashes of sadness and a monsoon of alone" - Jasmin Kaur. There is no easy way to review this stunning novel written in poetry, prose and illustration. All I can really say is this book feels like a labor of love. You can tell the author wrote this book with so much care and dedication. Reading this book is such an immersive experience. It brings me so much joy to see more brown authors "But i couldn't yet explain this cocktail of everything i felt: two teaspoons of hope three tablespoons of fear six dashes of sadness and a monsoon of alone" - Jasmin Kaur. There is no easy way to review this stunning novel written in poetry, prose and illustration. All I can really say is this book feels like a labor of love. You can tell the author wrote this book with so much care and dedication. Reading this book is such an immersive experience. It brings me so much joy to see more brown authors writing stories that need to be told and finding a home with readers. Representation matters and I applaud authors like Jasmin for showing us that there is a place in the world for these stories. Kiran leaves Punjab to start a new life in Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant. Eventually her student visa expires and she raises her daughter while being undocumented. Sahaara lives with the fear of her mother being discovered, but when she learns the truth of her mother's painful past she feels compelled to seek justice. All the characters felt so real to me but my absolute favourite character was Joti. I found myself wishing I had a Maasi like Joti and loved the way Kiran found herself a family when she was rejected by her own. The way Kiran tries to shield Sahaara from her past only for it to hit them both in the most painful way in the future was a really fascinating storyline. I think the author did a great job in exploring communication and vulnerability between desi parents and their children. How they want a better life for their kids and some parents feel the best way for that to happen is not expose them to past trauma. I can go on and on about why this book is so great but I'll end this by saying there is an honesty in Jasmin's writing that feels so authentic and pure that the story sits with you long after you're done

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Recommended: yup For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them Thoughts: I didn't expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that's just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly lo Recommended: yup For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them Thoughts: I didn't expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that's just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly loved the way Sahaara's sections grew in stylistic complexity as she grew in age. In her early poetry entries, it's simple rhyming couplets. It grows more complex, utilized different techniques and the abstract, and eventually turns to lengthier prose entries as well. The poetry and prose work so well together, catching what the other can't say. For me, the format was just edging out the story on my favorite element. But the story was by no means lacking: the style was just that good. Since it follows both Kiran and Sahaara from when they are young to their older years, a lot can be learned about each. The similarities between them parallel so well as the story continues. Sahaara makes a point after she learns the truth of her conception where she reflects on the way her mother's past actions make so much more sense now, knowing what she has been carrying all along. And in that, Sahaara also sees how she has changed just from hearing about what happened. This is an emotional story. I feel like it gets so close to the core of being human, because of how much all of the characters feel. The obvious ones related to Kiran's rape: fear, shame, anger, pain. The simple ones of a child: frustration, excitement, disappointment, hope. But what moved me the most were the deep ones, the ones that are so hard to understand because they are layered, and dependent on others. That's what drew everything together tightly, like a hug when everything else feels too big. It's... it's pretty good, y'all. Give it a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋ maddie ˊˎ˗

    this book was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. every single word throughout felt like it was chosen with such care, keeping to a steady and burbling current that sometimes swirled in my chest, sometimes overwhelmed me, and sometimes calmly carried me along. truly this should be five stars - it is a five star read - there's just one thing, particular to me, that weighed me down with disappointment. it perpetuates the idea that a straight man and a straight woman cannot be friends, or rather, canno this book was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. every single word throughout felt like it was chosen with such care, keeping to a steady and burbling current that sometimes swirled in my chest, sometimes overwhelmed me, and sometimes calmly carried me along. truly this should be five stars - it is a five star read - there's just one thing, particular to me, that weighed me down with disappointment. it perpetuates the idea that a straight man and a straight woman cannot be friends, or rather, cannot be only friends. it's going to crush me every time i see it, and no book has ever failed to deliver it. i just want that to exist in the world and apparently, for reasons beyond me, it cannot. even that is done beautifully, i must admit, but its existence will always be a disappointment with me and the more i see it, the more disappointing it becomes each time. but really it's hard to focus on the only negative i had with this, when it was overflowing with things i loved. i teared up when kiran got citizenship and had to pause for a full minute to get myself back under control, and tears streamed down my face reading sahaara's poem to her own body. i felt so much for joti and bibi and the way they so readily became kiran, and later sahaara's, family. i loved that it pulled no punches, that so often nothing went the way it should but how they always found the good and the strength in that and held together no matter what. kiran and sahaara's relationship was beautiful and imperfect and everything. this book just dug so deep in me with every single page and i adored it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    tayaberryz

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a powerful read. Gathering my thoughts after finishing this book was hard, I have so many. I mostly want to say that the discussion this book had about listening to survivors and how to be the best ally you can be is so important. Kiran is brave, she knew many people would not believe her and that coming forward would make her life more difficult but she still did it cause she didn't want to live in fear, she didn't want more girls to suffer like her and feel like they were alone with no This was a powerful read. Gathering my thoughts after finishing this book was hard, I have so many. I mostly want to say that the discussion this book had about listening to survivors and how to be the best ally you can be is so important. Kiran is brave, she knew many people would not believe her and that coming forward would make her life more difficult but she still did it cause she didn't want to live in fear, she didn't want more girls to suffer like her and feel like they were alone with no one to turn to. that is brave.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Hartman

    Realistically, this book deserves five stars, but I did not care for the sections of prose. This book dealt with many heavy topics in a way that many similar books don't-- it did it well. I honestly enjoyed this book, but it was very heavy at all times. Realistically, this book deserves five stars, but I did not care for the sections of prose. This book dealt with many heavy topics in a way that many similar books don't-- it did it well. I honestly enjoyed this book, but it was very heavy at all times.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shauna (library_of_your_dreams)

    This is the kind of book that you know, even when you’re only halfway through, will stay with you for years to come.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ran

    DNF at 25%

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne Roberts Cass

    The mix of poetry, illustrations, and story telling in this novel is flawless. When I requested it, I didnt expect it to be so long, and yet I turned the final page hoping for more. The author beautifully seamed this collection of mixed media into a story that will rip your heart out repeatedly, and yet leave you feeling.. full. The mother/daughter dynamic of Sahaara and Kiran was truly authentic, I appreciated how similar they both were while not being a mirrored image of the other. They felt r The mix of poetry, illustrations, and story telling in this novel is flawless. When I requested it, I didnt expect it to be so long, and yet I turned the final page hoping for more. The author beautifully seamed this collection of mixed media into a story that will rip your heart out repeatedly, and yet leave you feeling.. full. The mother/daughter dynamic of Sahaara and Kiran was truly authentic, I appreciated how similar they both were while not being a mirrored image of the other. They felt realistic. Mainly this book shed light on the experiences of sexual assault victims, and the many ways an assault can change the entire direction of your life. I can't speak for the representation of the cultural talk in this novel, but the conversations it brought up did make me think about how much power a woman's word can hold dependent on where she is from. If you enjoy modern poetry, strong female voices, and are mentally able to handle a lengthy book that doesn't shy away from the topic of sexual assault or deportation.. read this. It will stay with you. Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Releasing on January 19th of this year, Jasmin Kaur’s forthcoming YA novel, If I Tell You the Truth, explores difficult topics such as immigration and sexual assault. Through a mix of poetry and prose, Kaur introduces us to Kiran, who has just moved from Punjab to Canada to attend university. After arriving in Canada, Kiran confesses to her mother that she is pregnant and was sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. Her mother refuses to accept this traumatic reality for fear of the shame her Releasing on January 19th of this year, Jasmin Kaur’s forthcoming YA novel, If I Tell You the Truth, explores difficult topics such as immigration and sexual assault. Through a mix of poetry and prose, Kaur introduces us to Kiran, who has just moved from Punjab to Canada to attend university. After arriving in Canada, Kiran confesses to her mother that she is pregnant and was sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. Her mother refuses to accept this traumatic reality for fear of the shame her family would have to endure. So when Kiran makes the decision to raise her child on her own, her family offers no support, but she finds a new home when Joti and her mother come into her life. Readers follow Kiran as she navigates her life as a new mother while trying to balance school and work. With her student visa expiring since she had to drop out of school, Kiran now must live with the constant fear of being deported and separated from her daughter, Sahaara. The narration later changes to Sahaara, who is now a teenager in high school as we witness her experience as an undocumented immigrant’s child confronting love, heartbreak, and the truth about why her mother left Punjab. Even though Kiran is able to become a permanent Canadian resident, the process isn’t always as easy as it seems, which is addressed in the novel’s notes at the end. Oftentimes, immigrants wait months or years to receive approval. Others never seek help to adjust their status because they fear being separated from their loved ones and sent back to the life they left behind. Kiran’s story is one of many unfortunate stories that we hear or read about from all around the world. I appreciate that Kaur doesn’t merely gloss over these important topics; instead, her novel shows readers that, even when not everyone’s experiences are the same, they are equally important and deserve to be taken seriously. If I Tell You the Truth is an empowering story that encourages women to share their stories and support one another. Both the poetry and prose work together to provide the reader a deeper look into Kiran and Sahaara’s thoughts and feelings. I enjoyed reading from these alternating character perspectives because it offers a better understanding of the love a mother and daughter share, and how one issue impacts both their lives. I never expected Kiran and Sahaara to confront Kiran’s rapist, who is a respected and well-known politician in Punjab. However, it is important to show that men in positions of power, who often use their power against women, should be held accountable for their horrific acts. I liked that the novel proves that a woman’s life isn’t, and shouldn’t, be defined by the actions of men. Overall, If I Tell You the Truth highlights the strength and perseverance women possess despite the tragedies and obstacles they face. Hopefully, this novel will open the eyes of many in a crucial first step toward change. Perhaps one day our world will be a place where women and girls are respected, and those who commit horrific acts against them will be held accountable. Content Warning: sexual assault (Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirin

    In many ways I'm still feeling this book, and I imagine I will be for some time to come. It is quite remarkable how a book that spans a large breadth of time, and in many ways brushes over key plot points is still consuming me in such a raw and heavy way. The mix of verse, prose, screenshots and drawings, make the book read like a biography and I feel like the characters are not only real, but that I would recognize them if we bumped in to each other in the street. I couldn't put the book down, In many ways I'm still feeling this book, and I imagine I will be for some time to come. It is quite remarkable how a book that spans a large breadth of time, and in many ways brushes over key plot points is still consuming me in such a raw and heavy way. The mix of verse, prose, screenshots and drawings, make the book read like a biography and I feel like the characters are not only real, but that I would recognize them if we bumped in to each other in the street. I couldn't put the book down, and I hope everyone needing to feel love and feel heard and feel less alone, will find their way to this book and get lost in its beautiful pages. Kiran is heading to Canada from Punjab, India when the book starts, to live with her Uncle's family and attend university. She carries a secret however, she is pregnant and is determined to have the child. Unwed, without family support, and the victim of rape, life carries on as she drops out of school, is taken in by a friend's mother, and her immigration status lapses. I was shocked when this happened in the first 100 pages or so, and there is so much more of the book to go. The book picks up the story from the daughter's perspective for much of the remainder, with Kiran's voice still sprinkled in. Sahaara is a legal Canadian resident, but the fear she feels for her mother is real, and her mother's story, and ultimately her own conception, are still a mystery to her. As the information of her father slowly is revealed and it is learned that he is running for election, the two women decide to speak out and speak up, not for themselves , but for others not given the chance. The book explores courage, and acceptance, and love, while also tackling the plight of women universally to be believed and heard. I love that it also spends time to explore how even within similar situations of abuse and abandonment, privilege can also be found. The book warns of the triggers contained within, and with those considerations I think high school students would benefit from this story. The characters are Seikh and the Punjabi culture is very present, but the story will resonate with all readers and hopefully give them pause as to the assumptions we all make in perpetuating an environment where sexual assault is often brushed aside.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    A few trigger warnings (which the author very helpfully lists ahead of the story): sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. This is truly one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. It is told in poetry and prose, which works perfectly. The physical copies also have illustrations. I downloaded the audiobook because I was intrigued by the format and beautiful cover. I came away with a book that is going to sta A few trigger warnings (which the author very helpfully lists ahead of the story): sexual assault, police brutality, immigrant trauma, victim-blaming, domestic violence, alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. This is truly one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. It is told in poetry and prose, which works perfectly. The physical copies also have illustrations. I downloaded the audiobook because I was intrigued by the format and beautiful cover. I came away with a book that is going to stay with me for a long, long time. This is a heavy one. There were moments when I felt heartbroken, then angry, and then fear...sometimes all in the same chapter! There's also so much love and joy to be found here. I particularly loved Kiran and Sahaara's "chosen family," a cast of some of the most loveable and loyal people. The author does an excellent job of bringing you back to the light when the story starts to feel too dark and hopeless. Bonus: She narrates the audiobook! Another bonus: This book was written pre-2020, so the world of this story is quite different from the current state of things. The author includes an additional chapter on how the main characters' lives would have played out amidst the pandemic. I just thought that was a nice touch. I did not realize until after I finished reading that this a companion novel to Jasmin Kaur's first book, When You Ask Me Where I'm Going, which I will be picking up ASAP! The author has said there are insights in that one which add to the experience of reading If I Tell You the Truth, but that you are fine to read this one on its own! I hope you all will give this one a read. I think you'll come away with a new favorite!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather Jennings

    Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book. I appreciate those times when I simply cannot put a book down and when I reach the end of the book, I wish I knew what happened next in the lives of the characters. This book provided that experience. This is the story of family, both biological and chosen. The plot spans 20 years in the lives of a Punjabi mother who relocates to Canada, pregnant as the result of an act of violence. She spends years undocumented while her daughter grows up keeping secr Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book. I appreciate those times when I simply cannot put a book down and when I reach the end of the book, I wish I knew what happened next in the lives of the characters. This book provided that experience. This is the story of family, both biological and chosen. The plot spans 20 years in the lives of a Punjabi mother who relocates to Canada, pregnant as the result of an act of violence. She spends years undocumented while her daughter grows up keeping secrets. The daughter questions the lack of extended family and her parentage: is it better to know, even if one is the result of rape, or is it better to live in ignorance? The mother and daughter make a new family in Canada, one comprised of a college friend and her mother. Their presence in the story shows the lengths that women often go to support and protect one another. It also shows that speaking out can lead to questions and catharsis at the same time. The format of the story itself is the shining star. Told in a mixture of prose, verse, and text message screenshots (cracked screens and all), the lyricism sings. There were chapters that simply left me breathless such as “Joti Told Me”: “that love was a heavier anchor/than the currents that tried/to force us apart.” The verse lacks punctuation and capitalization in the vein of e.e. cummings but packs an emotional punch like Elizabeth Acevedo.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Krys

    If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur is a powerful, heart wrenching, and all consuming story told in prose, poetry, and illustration. Kiran flees her home to attend school in Canada followed by trauma. When she attempts to tell her mom about what happened to her, and the results, a pregnancy, she’s rebuffed and decides to take matters into her own hands. She denies her mother’s wishes, an abortion, and with the help of a friend and her friend’s mother raises her daughter in Canada. Over staying If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur is a powerful, heart wrenching, and all consuming story told in prose, poetry, and illustration. Kiran flees her home to attend school in Canada followed by trauma. When she attempts to tell her mom about what happened to her, and the results, a pregnancy, she’s rebuffed and decides to take matters into her own hands. She denies her mother’s wishes, an abortion, and with the help of a friend and her friend’s mother raises her daughter in Canada. Over staying her student visa though puts Kiran in a tough position in life but she’ll do anything to give her daughter the best life she can. *** Kiran is a woman of deep secrets and so much strength, she endures a lot on the hope that if she can last until her daughter, Sahaara, is 18 she can sponsor her citizenship. Kiran has little trust or love for authority considering how often it has been used against her which makes it hard for her to seek other options, but her endurance is admirable and also so incredibly sad. The love of mother and daughter, and the strength of found family is amazing in this story. Kiran and Sahaara wouldn’t be who they are without Joti and her mother taking them in and loving them. Through their ups and downs they always had each other’s backs, and loved one another. Always. Kiran has been running from something for 20 years, you have an idea of it but when the story comes pouring out it’s gut wrenching. The secrets she’s kept, hidden deep inside without anyone to help her carry the load, to give her some peace, just so much ouch. When her story becomes public she endures even more and Jasmin Kaur does a great job reflecting exactly how humans react to public things on the internet. I love this story for its fierceness and for its voice. I’m not always a big reader of contemporary but I can’t recommend this story enough. It’s rough. It’s emotional. It’s empowering, learning more and becoming more aware. *** Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Anne

    This book is a fantastic, multifaceted exploration of immigration, gender-based violence, cultures, coming of age, and the will to thrive. I loved the portrayal of the characters' strengthens and vulnerabilities. The incorporation of both Canadian customs and Punjabi culture provided a rich context for the story. I did think the pace of the book was a bit off at times with parts of the book either dragged or skipped quickly but, overall, this book provided interesting perspectives into the lives This book is a fantastic, multifaceted exploration of immigration, gender-based violence, cultures, coming of age, and the will to thrive. I loved the portrayal of the characters' strengthens and vulnerabilities. The incorporation of both Canadian customs and Punjabi culture provided a rich context for the story. I did think the pace of the book was a bit off at times with parts of the book either dragged or skipped quickly but, overall, this book provided interesting perspectives into the lives of a mother and daughter. At times, the activism within the book overtook the narrative and I felt like the book jumped to some conclusions or judgments without the support of the storyline. However, this book is well worth a read and I appreciated the author's work to broach carefully uncommon subjects in fiction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elwira

    "To be an effective ally to survivors of sexual assault, you need to be prepared to listen more than you speak" A raw representation of the hardships associated with immigration and of a teenage mother raising a child with the looming threat of deportation.The book deals with many other heavy subjects (which the author dedicates the first page to) such as rape and the harsh reality where women are often ignored and blamed. Despite this, there are moments of solace to be found interwoven throughou "To be an effective ally to survivors of sexual assault, you need to be prepared to listen more than you speak" A raw representation of the hardships associated with immigration and of a teenage mother raising a child with the looming threat of deportation.The book deals with many other heavy subjects (which the author dedicates the first page to) such as rape and the harsh reality where women are often ignored and blamed. Despite this, there are moments of solace to be found interwoven throughout these difficult subjects, giving hope to people who may have encountered similar circumstances. Although, I personally can't comment on the cultural representation in this book, the perspectives introduced through Kiran and Sahaara were heartwarming and yet, in many ways heartbreaking. This is a book bound to raise many important discussions and I would highly recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    𝘪𝘧 𝘪 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘵𝘩⁣ 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪’𝘷𝘦 𝘥𝘶𝘨⁣ 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘩𝘴⁣ 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘯𝘦𝘭-𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘵⁣ 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴⁣ 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦?⁣ 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦?⁣ This book was beautifully told through alternating texts of prose, poetry, verses, and illustrations. The harrowing story of Kiran who flees Punjab to Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant was heartbreaking. More powerful is how her daughter Sahaara after learning the truth of her mothers’ past will do anything to p 𝘪𝘧 𝘪 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘵𝘩⁣ 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪’𝘷𝘦 𝘥𝘶𝘨⁣ 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘩𝘴⁣ 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘯𝘦𝘭-𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘵⁣ 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴⁣ 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦?⁣ 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦?⁣ This book was beautifully told through alternating texts of prose, poetry, verses, and illustrations. The harrowing story of Kiran who flees Punjab to Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant was heartbreaking. More powerful is how her daughter Sahaara after learning the truth of her mothers’ past will do anything to protect her mother. This story was stunning as it illuminates the courage of these women for standing up after a powerful man. ⁣ ⁣ What a fantastic and beautifully written novel that touched my heart and soul.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What. A. Book. Told in prose and story form, it tells a story of Kiran and Sahaara, a mother and daughter struggling with harsh personal struggles, including a rape by a police officer who is currently running for political office (Kiran) and coming to terms that she’s the product of such violence (Sahaara). This was a powerful, fulfilling, touching, raw read that I had to cry over. Although the ending wasn’t as happy as I was hoping (the rapist still got elected to office), the growth Kiran and What. A. Book. Told in prose and story form, it tells a story of Kiran and Sahaara, a mother and daughter struggling with harsh personal struggles, including a rape by a police officer who is currently running for political office (Kiran) and coming to terms that she’s the product of such violence (Sahaara). This was a powerful, fulfilling, touching, raw read that I had to cry over. Although the ending wasn’t as happy as I was hoping (the rapist still got elected to office), the growth Kiran and Sahaar displayed was inspiring. Such a good book that I’m going to recommend it to my best friend that normally hates reading lol.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dipali

    ** A copy of If I Tell You the Truth was provided by the publisher and Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review ** Oh my gosh! This is so so sooooo good. It is beautifully written and oh-so powerful. And that cover - can't wait to get my hands on a hardback so it matches with the first. I think I highlighted at least half the book and will definitely keep coming back to some of the poetry. I didn't think it was possible but I honestly think this is better than Jasmin's debut. I can't wait to s ** A copy of If I Tell You the Truth was provided by the publisher and Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review ** Oh my gosh! This is so so sooooo good. It is beautifully written and oh-so powerful. And that cover - can't wait to get my hands on a hardback so it matches with the first. I think I highlighted at least half the book and will definitely keep coming back to some of the poetry. I didn't think it was possible but I honestly think this is better than Jasmin's debut. I can't wait to see what she does next.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gina Malanga

    This beautiful book crosses cultures, continents and decades through poetry, narrative and even drawings. Koran goes to Canada from Punjab to study but the baby in her belly has other plans. Her daughter, conceived in the worst way possible, is the light of her life but without proper papers their life hangs in a delicate balance. This book definitely covers some triggering topics such as rape, sexual harassment, undocumented individuals and mental health but handles them so beautifully and with This beautiful book crosses cultures, continents and decades through poetry, narrative and even drawings. Koran goes to Canada from Punjab to study but the baby in her belly has other plans. Her daughter, conceived in the worst way possible, is the light of her life but without proper papers their life hangs in a delicate balance. This book definitely covers some triggering topics such as rape, sexual harassment, undocumented individuals and mental health but handles them so beautifully and with such delicacy. A wonderful book full of culture and love.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hanson

    Kaur’s writing is always beautiful and powerful, but the struggles faced throughout this story are very often faced today. The bond of a mother and daughter wavering, the need to push past trauma and be able to communicate where love pushes past fear and anger; the terror of being an undocumented immigrant; knowing how to be an ally of those affected by sexual violence instead of “telling them what best actions are”. The only downside was that the beauty of mixing poetry and chapters together se Kaur’s writing is always beautiful and powerful, but the struggles faced throughout this story are very often faced today. The bond of a mother and daughter wavering, the need to push past trauma and be able to communicate where love pushes past fear and anger; the terror of being an undocumented immigrant; knowing how to be an ally of those affected by sexual violence instead of “telling them what best actions are”. The only downside was that the beauty of mixing poetry and chapters together seemed to speed too quickly as the story drew to a close.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrystal

    Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. This story was a unique story in its own respect, mixed with a variety of writing styles. The poetry intermingled throughout gave the story an emotional vibration that really fit well with the tone of this devastating story. For me, the story was almost just too heavy. I didn’t read the rape trigger warnings ahead of time and I really should have. I think people who enjoy reading really serious, heavy, and tragi Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. This story was a unique story in its own respect, mixed with a variety of writing styles. The poetry intermingled throughout gave the story an emotional vibration that really fit well with the tone of this devastating story. For me, the story was almost just too heavy. I didn’t read the rape trigger warnings ahead of time and I really should have. I think people who enjoy reading really serious, heavy, and tragic stories will be all over this one. For me, I prefer more of a fantastical element.

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