Review: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

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Summary:

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.

Review:

You guys! This book! Beautiful! Heartwarming! Overwhelming! It wasn’t even perfect, there were a few things I didn’t like, but I don’t even care because it made me feel so much! Pleeeease read it!

Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise.

Mark and Kate have been in the same calculus class all year, but their lives have never touched. Until one night they meet and they find in each other that one person they need to move forward. A friend. Mark is in love with his best friend, who he’s made out with a few times, but for Ryan their “relationship” is a secret, and that night Mark’s struggling with that. Kate is in love with her best friend’s cousin, Violet, whom she’s never met, but she’s always heard about her adventure, and she’s thought about her since. On that night, Kate could have met this girl, but instead she ran, as she always does when she’s nervous. So that’s how their friendship begins.

“I hate that word. Straight. At the very least, those of us who are nonstraight should get to be called curvy. Or scenic. Actually, I like that: ‘Do you think she’s straight?’ ‘Oh no. She’s scenic.'”

This book isn’t about coming out, because both Mark and Kate already have; this is simply about two teenagers dealing with life. And that’s beautiful, because the fact that Mark likes boys and Kate likes girl was just that. Something about them.  They know people who’ve dealt, or are dealing, with coming out, with bullying, or abuse, so those topics are dealt with brilliantly, but that’s not the main focus. I do think that Kate’s character and her love for Violet were a bit too romanticized; I mean even after they’ve met they seem way too invested in each other considering they don’t actually know each other. But even if that bothered me at first, in the end it didn’t matter, because the focus isn’t really on their romance. While Mark’s relationship with Ryan was AMAZING. I loved how it developed and the unexpected turns it took. Nothing went the way I thought it would, and that was surprising in a really good way.

But then I see Mark. And I feel better. I sit next to him at my desk where I’ve sat every day for several months, but for the first time I turn to face him. “Hi,” I say. “Hi,” he says. We smile.

The book takes place during San Francisco’s Pride Festival, and since the tragic shooting in Orlando, I loved reading about that. It showed the most beautiful sides of this celebration. Plus, both Levithan and LaCour’s writing style are beautiful, and I think they merged perfectly.

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