You Know Me Well by David Leviathan and Nina Lacour
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Macmillan’s Children’s Books
Format: ARC e-book
I have come to expect a certain reading experience from David Levithan’s co-authored books, and I have to say that this was no exception. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on how much you like to be surprised. I personally like it when an author’s books can be distinguished between one another by using different character types or different settings or ways to create plot/tension. So, although You Know Me Well fits perfectly into the David Levithan canon, maybe that’s not a good thing. Nina Lacour, on the other hand, had a jaunty style that was very similar to Levithan’s but they had their differences. I’m still not sure how I feel about her writing, but my previous experience of her work is limited to the short story she submitted to the Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology, so we shall see…
P L O T
I’ll start by saying how much I love the tag line for this book: They were friends at first sight. It’s such a beautiful thing, and although the characters individual romances are a really large part of the story, the friendship of Mark and Katie is definitely what stands out. Mark is gay and in love with his best friend Ryan, who doesn’t feel the same. Katie is love with the idea of Violet, her best friend’s cousin. She’s heard a million stories about her and they finally find a place to meet but she ditches at the last second, because running away is kind of Katie’s thing. She winds up at a gay bar where Mark is doing a strip dance on the bar counter, which is very unlike him. They sit next to each other in one class at school, but they didn’t know each other outside of class and they certainly didn’t know each other’s romantic preferences. The fun ensues from there.
C H A R A C T E R S
Katie is an artist who constantly questions the quality of her own work. She compares her work to others a lot too. She’s also pretty insecure about her future. Just when everything seems to be going great in her life, she seems to self-destruct pretty quickly. What Katie doesn’t realise is that talking to other people about it, can make all the difference.
Mark is insecure in his own way too. He’s completely safe in his sexuality but is still struggling with his relationships because he’s tied himself to Ryan, who isn’t openly gay yet, and if worried that he might need Ryan more than Ryan needs him. Basically, Mark needs to figure out who he is when he isn’t Ryan’s best friend.
I really loved the dynamic of the characters. They were all flawed, but they shared one thing in common: pride. Although we have to suffer through some questions poetry, the overwhelming feeling of pride in this novel is outstanding. Not only that but the character development is good too, even if sometimes it can be a little forced.
P A C I N G
The pacing largely relies on the characters moving from on place to another. The narrative is conveniently split up into days so you can realize how quickly int’s all happening, and my goodness are there a lot of activities squeezed into one week. Because of the structure at some points (mostly when Katie and Mark found themselves together) it felt much more like a series of scenes rather than something that flowed together.
It was fast-paced, while giving the illusion of being slow-paced, if that makes any sense? The characters quickly learn everything about each other so the building of their friendship can’t get in the way of their bigger conversations about Violet, Mark and their futures. I appreciated the display of how quickly someone can become really important to you, and I think by the end of the novel, Katie and Mark found themselves someone they couldn’t live without and it wasn’t their love interests, it was each other.
V E R D I C T
So, as much as the introduction made out that I didn’t enjoy this book, in fact, I did. There was nothing about it that meant it didn’t deserve 3 stars but it certainly wasn’t perfect. Overall, I think I enjoyed the co-authored books with Rachel Cohn, but this had a similar tone and joyfulness about it, that I probably would recommend for those looking for some more LGBTQ YA.