You Know Me Well, by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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.
I had a permanent crease between my eyebrows the entire time I read this. Not because it was bad– rather, because it was too good. Like, it’s the kind of picture-perfect story that doesn’t actually work because who cares about a story when everything can just be shrugged off? What little conflict there is (between Mark and his best friend Ryan) is really about as dramatic as an emo teenager: you roll your eyes, pat them on the head, and move on.
Okay, let me start with what I do like:
The alternating points of view. Mark and Kate switch off leading the narrative, and while normally that would bother me, I actually really enjoyed it here. They have distinct voices, so I didn’t ever feel confused about who was speaking.
Kate and Violet’s story. At first I didn’t buy into it; it seemed cheesy and superficial. But by the end I realized that I did, in fact, really want to root for them.
Now what I didn’t like:
Is this a magical world of no homophobia and no angst? Maybe it’s because I’ve never read a YA novel with queer youth that didn’t focus at least a bit on the struggle of coming out, of being out, of being queer. And I’m not complaining: this novel is set in a utopian San Francisco setting where teens go to gay bars to get drinks without being carded; where parents wave off their kids going into the city at 2am; where teenage artists magically become best-sellers overnight. It’s too good.
I am also really upset with the end to Mark’s story. There wasn’t a HEA there. Yeah, there was resolution, but it felt blah and flat by the end.
Mostly, this novel had me thinking Who cares? Why do I care about Kate who has everything (including the dream girlfriend that she was in love with before she met). Why do I give a damn about Mark, the popular, handsome jock who’s out at school and in love with his best friend?
I don’t. That’s the answer. I just don’t care.
This book was readable. It was, at times, enjoyable. But it had no substance and no connection.
Nina LaCour (www.ninalacour.com) is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimed The Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Nina lives with her family in Oakland, California.
David Levithan is an American young-adult fiction author and editor. His first book, Boy Meets Boy, was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2003. He has written numerous works featuring strong male gay characters, most notably Boy Meets Boy and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List.
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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.