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. From Goodreads.
I picked up You Know Me Well by Nina Lacour & David Levithan expecting a light, happy read. What I got was a very quick read that left me feeling lukewarm.
Mark and Kate sit next to each other in Calculus, but have never spoke. However, a chance encounter between the two at the beginning of Pride week sees them becoming close friends. A bond is formed as they help each other through their problems. Mark is in love with his best friend, Ryan, who has no idea. Kate has loved Violet from afar for years, but when the time comes to meet her, she panics. The two find solace in each other's friendship as they struggle with their problems, but the courage to take the steps forward that they need with the support and encouragement from each other. This Pride week will be unlike any other.
You Know Me Well was heavier than I expected. I think the theme of friendship and that light coloured cover led me to believe this would be the light book I needed, but it wasn't. There was nothing too awful about the problems the characters have, it's just the frame of mind I'm in at the moment, I need books that aren't going to bring me down - and unfortunately, this book did a little. It was nice, though, to be reading an LGBTQ+ YA where the issues have nothing to do with the characters' sexuality. The problems revolve around love, relationships, change and the future. Both are dealing with fear in one way or another, but they're each able to help the other.
But You Know Me Well is a very short novel, and I think it was perhaps too quick, because I wasn't very emotionally involved with the characters. That may sound odd considering it was too heavy for me, but I just didn't feel I really got to know the characters that well, I didn't really care about them. The story moved too quickly, not giving me a chance to warm to the characters.
That saying, there was such a huge cast of characters, and all but three, I believe, are part of the LGBTQ+ community. With the mention of The Angel Project, a charity that helps LGBTQ+ youth, the story touches on the homo- and transphobia LGBTQ+ people experience, and how it can lead to them being homeless. I loved the poetry slam and the experiences the various characters shared. And I loved the huge community and celebratory feel to the book as it takes place during Pride week, all these people celebrating who they are was just wonderful.
I'll end with a beautiful quote that I think sums up the whole celebratory feel, but also the theme of the story.
'Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise[.]' (p243)Thank you to Macmillan Children's Books via Foyles for the reading copy.
Published: 2nd June 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Nina Lacour's Website
David Levithan's Website