Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7th 2016
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.
I want to smash something.
I guess it’s a positive that Levithan made me so attached, so allegiant, to his character, Mark, that I want to throttle the fictional character who hurt him. I haven’t felt this worked-up over a book since The Handmaid’s Tale…
Okay. The suffering that Mark goes through in You Know Me Well is not comparable to the rape-y horror of Atwood’s dystopian novel. Comparatively, it’s mild. But goddamn if I don’t feel utterly enraged, if I don’t feel like injustice has been done. Why, oh why, View Spoiler »Ryan « Hide Spoiler? Why, oh why?
How This Whole Thing Started
You Know Me Well starts at the beginning of Pride Week in San Francisco. Two teenagers, Mark and Katie, both gay, both attending the same high school, run into each other at a LBGTQ club. Mark is there with his best friend, Ryan, who is also gay. Mark happens to be in love with Ryan — small fact. Mark and Ryan have messed around, but always in secret, because Ryan is closeted. Katie spots Mark after he wins a scantily-clad bar dancing competition, much to Mark’s embarrassment. Katie, impulsively, asks Mark to be her friend. He agrees, bemused, and the two take off together when Ryan wants to stay behind to flirt heavily with another guy. Ugh.
Katie has her own problems. She’s been in love with her best friend’s cousin, Violet, from afar for a long time. That night, Katie and Violet are supposed to meet at a party through arrangement, but Katie takes off before the meeting due to nerves. After running away and ending up at the same bar as Mark, Katie wanders off with him to find adventure in the city, which sets off a chain of events that will leave them changed.
I’m Still Mad
Just to remind you, I’m furious.
LaCour and Levithan — Who Was the Stronger Writer
As you might have seen, You Know Me Well was written by two (gay!) authors — Nina LaCour and David Levithan. In my opinion, Levithan’s writing blew LaCour’s out of the water. I trudged through LaCour’s chapters but ate up Levithan’s greedily. I wish the entire book had been written by him. (Yes, even despite the fact that he emotionally demolished me with this book.)
In comparison to Mark, Katie’s character was fairly watery. She wasn’t as vivid or full of life as Levithan’s character creations. Moreover, I didn’t like Katie’s strange combination of impulsive forthrightness and cringing hesitancy. Call me a critic, but those are some contradictory qualities right there.
Overall, Levithan was was electric. LaCour was only so-so.
So Do I Recommend This Book Or What?
I do! It’s a short read and Levithan wrote a powerful half of a story. LaCour isn’t bad enough to drag the story down to unreadable levels, either.
As for my rage… siiiigh. I’m still remarkably upset about View Spoiler »Mark’s lack of a fairytale ending « Hide Spoiler. Maybe some reader’s would be less upset than me, but the situation struck me hard.
Anyways, this book would have been a 4.5 read if not for LaCour’s just-okay writing. I give the book 3.5 and recommend.