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, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.
This is my last review that will say “I read this in preparation for YALC” or at least the last one before YALC because I have another couple with reviews yet to be written. Anyways, I flipped out when I heard David Levithan and Nina LaCour were coming to YALC this year. I met David Levithan at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and he was lovely and hilarious in his talk so I can’t wait to meet him again and get my copy of You Know Me Well signed.
This was a really fun book to read in one sitting in the early hours of the morning. It was fast-paced, funny, emotionally charged and beautifully written. Set during San Francisco pride week, You Know Me Well explores the lives, dreams and relationships of two people who barely know each other on the first page but are ridiculously close by the last one. AND (and Imma shout for everyone at the back) THEY HAVE NO ROMANTIC INTEREST IN EACHOTHER IT IS PURELY FRIENDLY SUPPORT BETWEEN A GIRL AND BOY WITH NO ROMANTIC MOTIVES OR ANYTHING.
Sorry, I’ve just had that repressed inside me for a while now. I LOVE YA. It is my favourite genre to read in, but I was getting tired of hell with the constant “They-are-girl-and-boy-and-best-friends-but-long-to-be-more-but-neither-one-will-tell-the-other” trope. (Side note: it is really difficult to overcome the instinct to use hyphens instead of spaces for that long of a sentence.)
Other than the parents of the two protagonists, I don’t think there is a single heterosexual couple in this novel, or at least not one that was noticeable to me at all, and this is the first time I have ever encountered that. This really helped with getting past the trope of a couple’s most prominent trait being that they are LGBT – Not that I would ever expect that kind of thing from these authors or really any in the YA community, but it happens a lot on TV, annoyingly.
Anyways, back to the friendship thing, I love it. Despite not really knowing each other very well, Mark and Kate both recognise that the other really needs a friend to just be there for them no questions asked; an objective perspective who isn’t involved in the drama and they realise that they can be this for each other.
I was intrigued by Kate as a character as I am currently going through a similar stage of life and I found it interesting to see where my story aligns with hers and where it really doesn’t. Kate is moving on to go off to university and is feeling confused about her school friends and what place they are going to have in her life, an extremely relate-able problem which all of us who move away after secondary school go through. However, her other issue was one I really really struggled to understand properly, though maybe I am a bit too close to the situation. Kate is feeling really unenthused about going off to university, she isn’t scared, she isn’t excited, she just doesn’t really care, and I really struggled to get to grips with this. I am starting at the University of Edinburgh in September and I’m simultaneously feeling terrified, exhilarated, nervous and all sorts of emotions, so for Kate to feel nothing was unthinkable to me. However, I feel that this inability to relate to her helped to really stress why she feels so confused about her lack of enthusiasm, because I couldn’t comprehend it.
Serious stuff aside, this was a really fun book. The Pride Week festivities were such a joy to read and the characters were all hilarious! Some favourite quotes include:
“Katie yanks me over to the front of the art gallery. We’re now near a wall that has what I’d call the c word written in different fonts. It’s very strange to see it in Comic Sans, but I guess that’s the point.”
” “I’m Mark”
“My Manager” I add
“Yeah” Mark nods. “And Katie’s my SAT tutor”
“It is indeed” Mark says “
“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‘ “
So yeah, in summary, you’ve got to read the book! If I haven’t convinced you then maybe the authors themselves can, David Levithan and Nina LaCour will be at YALC on Saturday the 30th July. They will be signing between 2 and 3:30pm and then speaking about You Know Me Well in a panel at 4pm.