Thursday, September 8, 2016
Review: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
Authors: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: 13 June 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time. (summary from Goodreads)
You Know Me Well is a wonderful story about the many facets of friendship.
For a book that really only covers a week in the life, You Know Me Well hits hard and deep. There's a lot of emotion here, a lot of inspiration and lessons. LaCour and Levithan have done a great job of keeping their story and characters relatable. There are such universal themes here - first love, unrequited love, friendship, heartbreak, growing up, learning who you are and deciding who you want to be. You Know Me Well is why I love contemporary YA so much. It's a story you easily sink into, a one sitting read that you're eager to get through, wholly invested in, and it resonates because it doesn't matter how different you may be from the characters - those universal themes are all something we experience and know well. I've not read anything by LaCour before and Levithan is a favourite author of mine. Throughout You Know Me Well each had me thinking 'yes' or 'they get it'. It's a feel good book overall, one full of hope and that's how I felt finishing it - so hopeful and inspired.
The friendship between Kate and Mark is what I enjoyed best about You Know Me Well. Alternating between their point of views, You Know Me Well narrates their experience of the week prior to Pride Week in San Fransisco and the last week of school - simply for another year for Mark, but forever for Kate. It's a week of change for each of them. The premise of You Know Me Well is that Mark and Kate have sat next to each other during a math class all year without speaking, but one night they run into each other at a gay club and become fast friends. Best friends. I really loved that. The connection between them is immediate and I found it very genuine. Some people are meant to know each other, to have each other in their lives. That's true for Mark and Kate. I have many friends with whom I just clicked after only one conversation and became fast friends with, so it was somewhat giddy to read the same happening in You Know Me Well. I liked both Mark and Kate as characters and enjoyed each of their stories. I think emotionally Mark's story hits slightly harder - I suppose that's the case for heartbreak. It's rawer. I desperately wanted a happy ending for Mark and I like how LaCour and Levithan chose to leave his story. I wasn't a huge fan of Ryan to be honest. I sympathise for him, but I'm not sure I believe he can call himself Mark's best friend and be so cruelly oblivious. Everything to do with Ryan really riled me up. As for Kate, I was rooting for her to get the girl. I liked Kate and Violet's relationship. They compliment each other and it was sweet to read. Kate's story is also about her relationship with her best friend, Lehna. People and friendships change and that causes tension between the two. I had trouble liking Lehna, much like Ryan, but LaCour and Levithan have a way of portraying how there's always more than what we see through another character's eyes. The emotion of Kate's story isn't so much relationship related as it is her learning to be herself, to trust her choices and believe in herself. For me, Mark brings the hope while Kate the inspiration of You Know Me Well.
You Know Me Well is an uplifting story, beautiful and real.